A strong technical framework is the backbone for a winning Search Engine Optimization strategy. Google, Bing, and other search engines reduce the ranking of sites that don’t meet their technical benchmarks for things like mobile-friendliness, page speed, security, and accessibility. If your site doesn’t meet their benchmarks, you could be losing ranking and traffic.
Before we can address any technical issues that may be present on your site, we need to diagnose them. This is done by running a Site Audit, which produces a list of all the errors and potential issues on a given site. Using this Site Audit, we can create a list of priorities to address before beginning any other SEO work.
There are a number of technical elements that go into the Site Audit process. Many of these are important ranking factors that can push your site above your competitors on the search results. A few key factors are Crawlability, Site Performance (including page speed and mobile-friendliness), Security, and Accessibility.
Search engines gather data by crawling your site with bots. If your site has crawlability issues, such as missing Title or Heading tags, or missing Metadata, some pages may not be indexed, making them unavailable to users searching for them. Often these issues are not readily apparent when a site is created, so they are often overlooked. But they should be addressed before most other issues to ensure your site is ranking in the search results.
Because the search engine’s goal is to serve relevant and user-friendly content quickly, they prioritize sites that are mobile-friendly and load quickly. Often pages load slowly due to large, uncompressed photos or scripts running in the background. By compressing these images and scripts, your page can load faster, making your users happier. In addition to page speed, ensuring your site is mobile friendly is also a key ranking factor, as search engines prioritize sites that look and function well on all devices, not just desktops.
Your site’s security matters to search engines and should matter to you. Search engines now penalize sites that do not have an SSL Certificate by showing a “Not Secure” banner in the address bar. While your site may be secure, without an SSL your users may think twice before visiting your site, and the search engines will push your results further down the page.
All people, regardless of ability, should be able to use your website. Many of the issues that appear during a Site Audit are related to accessibility, such as missing Alt text. This text appears when images are turned off and is read by screen readers used by those with visual impairments. This text also helps search engines understand what the image is, allowing for better indexing of the page in the results.
If you’re reading this thinking, “my site needs a diagnosis,” give us a call or send us an email. Our team can work with you to run a full Site Audit that will diagnose potential technical errors or issues and create a plan to correct them.
Written by: Clayton Pollard