10 Technical SEO Tips

Search Engine Optimization—Coughlin Goes Under the Hood to Talk Technical SEO


Written By: Conner Biolsi
Updated on November 20, 2019.

Having quality content on your website is like making sure you have a Ferrari or BMW for the Formula 1 race and not a Ford Fiesta. But just having good content is not enough to help you earn the top spot on the SEO podium. There might be five Ferraris in the race, but only one can win. The difference is what is under the hood – the tweaks, adjustments and perfections that set that one car slightly ahead of the rest. THAT is what technical SEO is all about. Chances are you’ve seen the term “Technical SEO” thrown around the internet while researching SEO. It is a common term in the industry, meaning simply that it’s one of the most important tools for your website. Technical SEO is a crucial step in fine-tuning a website to give you the edge over your competition.

The goal of this article is NOT to impact the appearance of your site. You can have a shiny new website that looks incredible; but, if the search engines don’t like it, you’ll never get off pit row to hit the SEO races. Rather, our goal is to list the top 10 Technical SEO tweaks for your website to enable you to take your site to the next performance level in the world of search engine optimization.

NOTICE: we are not ranking these from 1-10 in value or importance. They are all vital parts of a Technical SEO tune-up.

1. Security Certificate (SSL)

If your website is not secured with a certificate, it’s time to investigate your hosting package to see if it’s available to enable. Not sure if you have it? Navigate to your website and check out the web address. If you see a lock symbol and/or “httpS” before your website domain name, you are all set! If not, it may be as simple as redirecting the unsecure site to the secure site. Or perhaps it will be a bit more involved and require an upgrade to your hosting package to have access to this feature (which is a shame because it SHOULD be a default feature on the lowest packages). This is one of the reasons we work with 8DWeb’s CMSDefender. They provide security and a whole host (no pun intended) of other important features at their flat rate of $15/month. Adding this to your website is extremely important because browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox will not even allow users to navigate to non-secure websites without redirecting them to a warning page first. The user then must go to the advanced options and choose to “trust” the website. Only after this will Chrome navigate a user to a non-secure website.

  • NOTICE: if you have an SSL certificate but your site still throws an error, there is some more tuning that needs to be done on your site that might require some professional help.
  • FACT: as of DATE???, Google has been punishing sites that are not protected with a valid SSL certificate. That is like getting flagged in the pits and being disqualified to even race.

Good!


Bad!

2. Mobile Friendliness

Most modern sites are both high-performing and visually appealing on computers and mobile devices. [show image of coughlin as desktop and mobile] Because of the steady (and rapid) rise of mobile internet browsing and purchasing, Google rewards websites that perform well on mobile devices by giving higher credibility scores. This isn’t necessarily an easy fix. The way to improve this aspect of your site will largely depend on your content management system (Joomla!, WordPress, etc.) and the template you are using, amongst other things. This would be like tuning up the steering on your vehicle – it increases overall performance and further enables the user/driver.

3. Page Speed

We are talking about pure speed tuning. Check out these free speed testing tools to get started:

These tools will help you identify ways to decrease your page loading time (less = more). It will recommend compressing your code and image files, optimize file sizes, etc. This is important because people are lazy and impatient, according to studies. How long are you willing to wait for a web page? Most people don’t ever want to wait more than 3-5 seconds for a page to load. If your site needs over 10 seconds to show up, chances are people won’t even bother waiting and they’ll move on to the next option (you lose!). Google also rates sites based on speed and will more readily recommend a fast site than a slower counterpart. How quickly does your site go from 0 to 60 mph?

4. Meta Descriptions

Your home pages, sales pages, and other important site areas should all have meta descriptions. This is code (that users don’t even see on your site) that the search engines look for and analyze to understand what each page contains. Search engines use that meta description to populate a brief text segment of your pages in their search results. Make sure your page descriptions include your keywords and clue the search engines into what you are trying to tell the world. Remember, search engines index pages, and each page is unique. Declaring your meta description for each page will help a search engine find the best page for the search query.

TIP: don’t waste time on “meta keywords” – search engines have stopped using them because they have been abused.

5. Image Tagging

Tagging Images – Every image can be customized on the “back end” to help your SEO. It can be labeled/tagged to add a description of what is shown in the image. Since search engines can only harvest text, they look for these tags to assist them in understanding the content on a page. Tagging images is also an essential task for ACESSIBILITY for a website. Blind users that utilize screen reader assistance tools rely on alt tags to “see” images and multimedia. An additional step you can take is giving the image file a relevant name with appropriate keywords. Yes, Google can even see the file names being used on the site. Tagging = Turbo.

Image Tagging

6. Link Optimization

The internet runs on links; they are the pathways to your pages. They’re key to accessing your content, and potentially very helpful for your SEO. Optimizing your links should include checking for accuracy and readability. The first is ensuring that there are links leading to every page. Users need the ability to navigate to and from your rich content areas. The second part is creating intelligent link names for your menu items and internal links. If your link is - genericSEOwebsite.com/about/kj07836uuinhg9821looppp.html the search engine has no clue what is being linked to based on the link name. Furthermore, a blind user will have a hard time deciphering where that link goes. Try something more like – genericSEOwebsite.org/about/tips-to-improve-websites. Have links to all your pages and make those links easy to read and full of valid keywords and you’ll start lapping those that do not.

7. Header Hierarchy & Naming

Get your headers straight! The title of your page should be contained in the HTML element known as the h1 (header 1) tag. Any sub-headers within the page should use the h2 (header 2) tag and so on. These HTML elements are never seen by users but machines can and will read them to understand the hierarchy of information on the page. This leads to the next point. Write Good Titles! Your titles need to include key words and phrases. They can include your company name and relevant terms of your industry. This goes for all your titles (h1, h2, h3, etc.), and especially for the page title. Google is looking specifically for what is enclosed in the h1 tag to understand the meaning and relevance of your page! Don’t misplace your h1 tag or name your page something supremely strange or boring. Grab the readers’ attention and be relevant.

8. XML Sitemap & Robot.txt Files

Google has what is known as a “Crawl Budget” as it indexes each site; it will only spend “XX much time” indexing your pages. Most small websites don’t need to worry too much about managing this unseen crawl budget; but, medium to large websites should have this concept in mind. If this is the case for you, do some research on how to add lesser value pages to your Robot.txt file (not super difficult, in reality) and ensure you have an XML Sitemap created and in the right places. Adding pages to the Robot.txt file tells the search engines which pages you do NOT want indexed while the XML Sitemaps helps demonstrate which pages you find most valuable and where Google should be spending its budget. Think of this as cutting off the extra weight to make your ride leaner and more efficient in the crawler race.

9. CMS Configurations Settings Check

It is always a smart idea to check your content management system (CMS; Joomla!, WordPress, etc.) global settings to make sure you have allowed Robots to “Index” and “Follow” your website. If not… your settings may be telling search engines to ignore or avoid your website! This could be your solution if you have ever tried to Google your own website and can’t find it in the results at all. When you get the green light, make sure you aren’t stuck in neutral!

10. Google Search Console & Analytics

Anybody that is serious about improving SEO for a website should be creating Google Analytics and Search Console accounts (for FREE!). Sign up and register your website in order to use these powerful tools. Search Console helps you discover ways to improve your website speed and “crawlability” and Analytics can provide insight into what pages are performing well or poorly and give you the data needed for your next marketing campaign or product push. Additionally, you can submit your site to Bing for indexing so that all those Windows 10 users that love Edge will have a better chance to find you.

Registering accounts in Google and Bing and adding your site to them is like registering for the big race. You have a site; it is tuned, it is sleek, turbo charged and ready to go – now you are officially entering your site into the Great SEO race. 

Watertown

Lowville

Address

210 Court St Suite 10
Watertown, NY 13601

Store Hours

Monday to Friday 8am-5pm

Phone: 315-788-8560 
Fax: 315-836-0043

Address

7602 North State St
Lowville, NY 13367

Store Hours

Monday to Thursday 9am-5pm
Friday 9am-4:30pm

Phone: 315-376-3224
Fax: 315-376-7925

Watertown

Address

210 Court St Suite 10
Watertown, NY 13601

Store Hours

Mon-Fri 8am-5pm

Phone: 315-788-8560
Fax: 315-836-0043

Lowville

Address

7602 North State St
Lowville, NY 13367

Store Hours

Mon-Thu 9am-5pm | Fri 9am-4:30pm

Phone: 315-376-3224
Fax: 315-376-7925

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Coughlin Printing Group is the combination of people, resources and experience from the Coughlin Company, AMF Printing, Benjamin Printing and West Side Printery. Though we predominantly service Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties of Upstate New York, our region for both printing and website design has spread across the northeast US. We are proud of our printing heritage and the way that we have adapted to marry digital products to each of our print items.

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