Are you looking for a technical SEO checklist that will help you boost your rankings?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential component of improving your visibility online. It’s crucial to driving organic traffic and generating inbound leads.
And one element of SEO you must get right is your technical SEO.
The Simplest Definition of Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the practice and process of optimizing your website and server to improve performance and user experience. These practices help search engines find, crawl, and index the pages on your site.
Remember, the main goal of SEO is to help you be found in search and to improve your rankings. And technical SEO plays a massive role in helping you do that.
The essential elements of technical SEO include:
- Site architecture
In short, technical SEO is about code structure, site performance, and overall page experience.
Why Technical SEO is Crucial To Your Overall Strategy
As you can see, technical SEO is actually the foundation of all SEO practices. No matter how well optimized your content is, you’ll still struggle to rank if it’s poor-quality content. That’s because if search engines can efficiently crawl and index your site correctly, it increases the chances of your content ranking in search results.
Technical SEO is crucial to your overall SEO strategy because everything you do SEO-wise hinges on the performance of your website. For example, if your content ranks high but your website loads slowly, you’ll experience high bounce rates. This will impact your business in two ways:
- High bounce rates signify poor content, resulting in search engines de-ranking your content.
- You lose precious leads, resulting in lower revenue.
With search engines like Google prioritizing page experience, technical SEO has become more important than ever. That’s why you must always adhere to website best practices when building or updating your site.
Technical SEO Fundamentals Checklist
Now that you know what technical SEO is and why it’s important, let’s dive into the basics of every technical SEO checklist. The checklist will highlight some of the most crucial elements you must get right for your overall SEO strategy to be successful.
One of the first elements to consider as you go through your technical SEO checklist is your robots.txt file. This file contains instructions on how search engines should crawl your site and which pages they should index.
Yes, not every page on your website needs to be crawled and indexed. Examples include:
- Admin pages
- Cart and checkout pages
- Login pages
Optimizing your robots.txt file ensures that search engines crawl and index the important pages on your website.
If your site is large, optimizing your robots.txt file also helps maximize your crawl budget. FYI, search engines allocate certain resources to crawl and index your site. If they exhaust the budget allocated to your site, the remaining pages won’t be crawled and indexed, no matter how important they are. This is why you want to ensure that your robots.txt file is optimized.
Here’s an example of our simple robots.txt file which you can find by adding /robots.txt to the end of our url.
Are All Your Pages Indexed?
In SEO, indexing is the process by which search engines add your website to their index or database. This is important because only indexed pages can be displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs).
That’s why you must ensure that all your pages are indexed.
A few ways to check if your pages are indexed include:
Run a Site Search
To run a site search, simply head to a browser and search for site:yourwebsite.com. Doing so will show you the number of pages in the browser’s index.
If you want to check that particular pages are indexed, follow the same process, only this time using that page’s URL — site:yourwebsite.com/web-page-slug.
If the page is indexed, it will show up in search results. If not, it won’t show up.
Check Google Search Console
The best and most efficient way of checking if your pages are indexed is by using Google Search Console (GSC). The first way is to check the “Coverage” report. This report shows the index status of all the pages on your site. Ideally, you will want most of if not all of your pages to be marked as “Valid”.
Secondly, you can also use GSC to check the indexing status of individual URLs using the URL Inspection Tool. Simply paste (or type) your URL in the search bar and run a search for the URL. If it’s not indexed, you’ll get a message that says, “URL is not on Google.”
Create & Optimize Sitemaps
Sitemaps are another crucial element for effective technical SEO. In simple terms, a sitemap is a blueprint of your website. Sitemaps help search engines discover, crawl, and index your content. The result is faster and more efficient indexation of your web pages.
Besides more efficient crawling, sitemaps also provide search engines with valuable information such as:
- The relationship between pages on your website.
- Any updates to pages on your site (and the frequency).
- When they were last updated.
This is vital information as it leads to better indexation. As a result, your content will show up for relevant searches.
Check for 400/500 Errors
As you conduct your technical SEO audit, one of the most important assessments is determining your website’s hypertext transfer protocol status codes (or HTTP Status Codes).
Two of the most impactful to watch out for are 400 and 500 errors.
What do these status codes mean?
- 400 errors signify an error on your site that leads to your content not loading.
- 500 errors are server-side errors that lead to your content failing to load.
You can use tools like Screaming Frog to run audits and reports on these errors. The tool will show you the cause of the error and give recommendations on how to eliminate them.
Watch Your Core Web Vitals
Core web vitals are Google’s three metrics for measuring user experience when a page loads. They significantly impact your technical SEO and should thus be prioritized in your technical SEO checklist.
The three main factors that make up core web vitals are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures a page’s load speed, and Google recommends that it be within 2.5 seconds of when a page starts loading.
- First Input Delay (FID): FID measures how interactive your page is. It measures how quickly users start interacting with your web page. Your FID should be 100 milliseconds or less to provide a positive UX.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures a page’s visual stability as it loads. Elements moving around a lot result in a high CLS. A good CLS is 0.1 or lower.
How do you measure your core web vitals?
It’s easier than you think. You can find all your core web vital metrics in GSC under the “Experience” section.
Use Breadcrumbs for Easier Navigation
Breadcrumbs are another essential element to have in your technical SEO checklist.
And no, this has nothing to do with cooking. But it has everything to do with SEO.
Breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation that shows users where they are on your site in relation to where they’ve been. You can find these directly under the navigation bar or at the top of a web page.
Why is breadcrumb navigation a critical element of SEO?
I’ll give you three reasons:
- Improves your site’s UX, resulting in users staying on your site longer
- Makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site
- Boosts your SEO
It has also been noticed that breadcrumbs appear on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This can help increase your clickthrough rate (CTR) as the breadcrumbs give users more context about your page.
Implementing breadcrumbs is easy if you’re a WordPress user, as there are many themes and plugins that offer the functionality.
Watch Your URL Structure
Another critical element to include on your technical SEO checklist is your URL structure. An optimized URL structure helps users and search engines know what your page is about.
To help boost your technical SEO, your website’s URL structure should be simple. Doing so makes them user-friendly and SEO-friendly.
What does an optimized URL structure look like?
Here’s an example of one of our sub services pages:
URLs that result in good technical SEO must be constructed:
- Easy to read
- Intelligible to readers
- Using your focus keyword
Most content management systems (CMS) assign default URLs to pages you create. Avoid using these as they’re usually incorrigible and contain meaningless ID numbers.
Instead, edit the URL slug of all your pages to optimize them for users and search engines.
As you work on your URL structure, you should also be careful to place content under the right categories. This will help give search engines better context about each page, thereby helping with indexation.
Optimize Your Site Structure
Still on the topic of URLs, you must ensure your site structure is user-friendly.
Site structure deals with how you organize the pages on your site and link them together.
Your site structure must make it easy for users to move back and forth on your site. It must also make it easy for search bots to crawl your site.
The best site structure for SEO is a flat structure. This is a structure that makes every page only a few clicks away from your main navigation items (like the home page).
Get Rid of Orphaned Pages
Orphaned pages are pages on your site that don’t have links to or from other pages on your site.
The major problems with orphaned pages are:
- They make it difficult for search bots to crawl your entire site
- Because they stand alone, users can’t find them
- They don’t rank well in search
You can easily find orphan pages using tools like Google Analytics, Semrush, and AIOSEO’s Link Assistant feature. The beauty of AIOSEO is that not only does it find orphan pages, but it helps you build links to them automatically.
How do you fix orphaned pages?
If the orphan pages contain valuable content, then the solution is to add internal links to them. However, implement redirects if they are deleted pages that Google still crawls because other websites point to them.
Eliminate Duplicate Title Tags, Meta Descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions are essential elements of SEO as they help users and search engines discover your content and understand what each page is about.
When you have duplicate title tags and meta descriptions on your site, it causes colossal SEO problems. One of the most common ones is cannibalization. This is when two pages on the same site compete for the same spot on the SERPs. Cannibalization results in diluted rankings and poor performance as it results in split traffic, backlinks, and more.
It’s easy to fall into the cannibalization trap if you have many pages targeting similar keywords and search intent.
How can you solve the duplicate title tag or meta description problem?
One of the best solutions is to conduct a content audit. The audit will help you discover pages that are similar or outright duplicate content. Once you’ve identified these pages, you can:
- Consolidate some pages into one and redirect the URLs to the new page.
- Delete pages that aren’t performing well or have outlived their purpose.
Once you’ve cleaned up your site, you can then edit any remaining title tags or meta descriptions that are similar.
Implement Structured Data
Structured data is a semantic language used by search engines to better understand the content and context of a page. Using structured data is essential to SEO as it can lead to rich snippets on SERPs. These more detailed snippets help convince users to click on your listing.
Here’s an example of a “Sitelinks” rich result if you search for “RevenueZen”:
While structured data alone is not a ranking factor, it results in better indexing and visibility on SERPs.
To implement structured data, you will have to use a schema markup (schema.org), a piece of code that helps search engines know what your content and website are about. There are many different types of schema markup you can add to your website depending on the page and content. Typical examples include FAQ schema, article schema, and event schema.
Implementing structured data is easy and can be done using your SEO tool of choice.
Boost Security with SSL or TSL Certificates
Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TSL) certificates are a security feature that must be added to every site, especially business sites. They can be likened to a padlock designed to ensure that the connection between a web server and browser is secure.
SSL and TSL certificates work by encrypting and scrambling data to prevent malicious agents from accessing it. When you add this layer of security, your URL will be preceded by “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP.” You’ll also have a lock icon in browsers.
One of the biggest advantages of using these types of security is that it helps you meet one of Google’s E.A.T standards — trustworthiness. Search engines promote secure websites over those without security certificates. Savvy users will also easily tell whether you have an SSL or TSL in place or not. If not, they won’t click on your content. If they do, the chances of them bouncing are higher.
Advanced Technical SEO checklist
With the basics out of the way, let’s now look at some advanced items to include in your technical SEO checklist.
Watch Your Crawl Budget
A technical SEO guide can never be complete without discussing crawl budget. Crawl budget simply means the amount of resources a search engine allocates to crawling your website.
While it may not be an issue for smaller sites, if your website has a lot of pages, there’s a p[ossibility of running out of crawl budget. When this happens, some of the pages on your website won’t be crawled and indexed.
To check how Google and other search engines crawl your website, you’ll need to use crawlers like Screaming Frog, Botify, or even Google’s own Crawl Stats report. Here’s an example:
Use these to check your log files for the URLs search engines have crawled and compare that number to the total number of URLs on your site.
So, how do you ensure that your crawl budget is optimized?
The main key is to ensure that only essential pages are crawled. Here’s how to do that:
- Eliminate duplicate content
- No-index low-quality content and pages that don’t benefit your SEO strategy
- Optimize your sitemap and update it regularly
- Create and optimize a robots.txt file to guide search engines
- Avoid redirect chains and loops
- Fix HTTP status errors
- Take care of URL parameters
By taking care of the above, you’ll ensure that only important content is prioritized. As a result, you’ll wisely use the crawl budget allocated to you.
Careful With International SEO
If your business serves clients across the globe, you should have an international SEO strategy. However, you’ll have to be careful as international SEO can be pretty technical. If not done correctly, it could tank your rankings.
Two aspects of international SEO you need to be mindful of are:
- Site structure: Will you use country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), subdomains, or subdirectories?
- Href language (hreflang): Hreflang tags are HTML attributes that show the language your content is displayed in depending on the geolocation of the reader.
- Multilingual pages: Use plugins like WPML, Weglot, TranslatePress, and others to translate your content and, especially, your SEO metadata.
Ticking these three items off your technical SEO checklist will help you rank in different languages and locales. And getting them right will ensure your technical SEO is on point.
Avoid Redirect Chains
Because your B2B blog strategy will evolve, your website will too. In some cases, you may delete some pages with SEO value and add redirects to them. In other cases, you may update your content or even migrate your website, necessitating redirects.
These changes to your site can result in redirect chains.
Redirect chains occur when there is more than one redirect between the link users click on and the destination page. This can be harmful to your SEO as it results in:
- Slow load times
- Wasted crawl budget
- Lost link equity
This is why you must avoid redirect chains at all costs.
- Use a crawler like JetOctopus to analyze the content Googlebot has or has not crawled.
- Don’t block search engines from accessing JS content.
With mobile dominating the traffic market share (with 60.66% market share), optimizing your site for mobile is a no-brainer.
As you run a technical SEO audit on your site, check if it’s mobile-friendly. A few elements to check in this regard include:
Page Load Speed
Page load speed is critical on all devices, but more so on mobile as users on mobile have more apps to distract them. One way to speed your website’s loading speed on mobile is by implementing accelerated mobile pages (AMP). This is an initiative by Google to help mobile pages load faster. It works by stripping away unnecessary content and rendering elements that are crucial first.
Another crucial element to get right when optimizing your site for mobile is your website structure.
The key here is to make it easy for mobile users to navigate your website easily. Eliminate all distractions and focus on a simple design that makes it easy for users to find any page with as few clicks as possible.
Other elements to consider as you optimize your website for mobile include using a responsive theme and design, using only necessary plugins, and eliminating duplicate content.
How to Successfully Implement these Technical SEO Considerations for Your Website
This technical SEO guide would be incomplete without some tips on effectively implementing the checklist items.
So, what do you do with all these items on the technical SEO checklist?
1. Leverage Your SEO/Content Teams or Work with a Consultant
One of the first things to do to set your technical SEO right is to align your SEO and content teams. This will help ensure that all your content, URL structures, and other metadata are optimized for search.
And if you’re using a content consultant or agency, give them the checklist to include in their roadmap.
2. Utilize a Developer…Or Two
Because technical SEO is… well, technical, you must enlist the help of a developer. This is because developers are mainly responsible for coding (and ensuring clean, lightweight code is used), creating sitemaps and robots.txt files, ensuring your site is mobile-responsive and loads fast, and much more.
3. Consider Upgrading Your CMS or Website Platform if it’s Limited
If speed and performance are an issue on your site, you should consider upgrading your content management system (CMS). Even if it may mean paying a bit more, upgrading to an SEO-focused CMS is undoubtedly worth it as the performance improvement will be worth it as the improved performance will result in better ranking and higher conversion rates.
Besides upgrading your CMS, you should also consider upgrading your hosting provider too.
4. Work From a Checklist and Take the Implementations One at a Time
We get it.
This is a comprehensive technical SEO checklist, and implementing everything can be overwhelming.
That’s why you must strategically tackle the checklist.
First of all, go through the checklist and break it down according to what’s most important. Then, create priority buckets and focus on the items in each bucket before going to the next bucket list.
5. Assign Tasks & Set Deadlines
Once you’ve created your priority buckets, the next step to implementing the considerations on this technical SEO checklist is to assign specific individuals or teams to take care of each task (or set of tasks). Doing so will help with accountability.
You should also set deadlines for each task to ensure they are completed on time. This will also help keep you on track and ensure your site is fixed expeditiously. Remember, every second your website isn’t performing at its best, you’re losing leads.
6. Take Your Time & Do It Right
While it may be tempting to rush through the checklist and get your site optimized, avoid the temptation to rush through the checklist. Instead, take your time and ensure you do everything right the first time. This will help you avoid costly mistakes that you’ll have to fix down the road — at a higher cost.
Use This Technical SEO Checklist to Lay a Solid Foundation for Your SEO
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations!
You’re well on your way to boosting your technical SEO. As a result, you’ll enjoy better ranking, more traffic, and an uptick in leads.
So, if your website isn’t performing as well as it should be, perhaps it’s time to look under the hood at its technical makeup.
If this technical SEO checklist is overwhelming, give us a shout, and we’ll perform a technical SEO audit for you. Then, we’ll use our findings to draw up a roadmap you and your team can follow to improve your rankings.