A few weeks ago, we posted a blog post about content optimization, where we explained how you could use the Yoast SEO plugin to optimize your content for search engines. Maybe you have already started with our tips, but maybe not. The vast majority of SEO optimization resolves around optimizing your content, but it isn’t all! If you want a search engine friendly website, you should not forget all the SEO techniques. In this blog post, we will explain all the important features concerning the technical side of the SEO.
What is SEO technology is not?
Many online entrepreneurs tried blackhat tricks to make their website easier to find in the search engines. This may have worked in the early days of the internet when people believed that search engine optimization consisted of stuffing your website with keywords or filling pages with invisible text.
Fortunately, these tricks belong to the past, and the SEO technique has evolved since then. Blackhat tricks do not work anymore, and the use of incorrect SEO method can even result in exclusion from the (Google) search results.
Be careful with any of the advice (or services) you may stumble upon online, that promise quick and easy success. Getting on the first page of Google means a lot of hard work!
Help! Do you have any SEO tips for 2018?
If blackhat tricks do not work anymore, what does work, then? Choosing the right and legitimate SEO technique is necessary so that your website is accurately recognized by search engines. Technical optimizations, such as a good link structure and sitemap, should help search engines to index your website better.
Paired with high-quality, fresh content and natural link building, you will usually benefit from a higher ranking in Google.
Today, I want to share 10 SEO techniques that are 100% legit and whitehat, that you can implement today to make your website SEO friendlier! So, let’s get started, the 10 technical SEO aspects of your website:
Choose a logical link and website structure.
A good site structure is important not only for Google but also for your visitors. After all, you do not want Google or your future customers to get lost inside the jungles of your website. The larger is your website, the more attention you need to direct to the link or site structure of your site. Don’t get me wrong; this doesn’t mean that you need to link to all the pages you have from the main menu. Think carefully about all the sections and categories you need and plan your website first on paper or using a graphical sitemap tool. Make sure the structure of your content is logical, intuitive and fluent.
Remove excess H1 elements.
The rule of thumb is that each page may only contain one H1 element, and this must be the title or the name of the page. Check your WordPress theme to see if there are no errors there. As we have previously mentioned many times, free WordPress themes often have errors, and perhaps it’s a good idea to invest a few dollars in a properly coded, professional WordPress theme. When you use a poorly coded free WordPress theme, sometimes it happens that the designer places the H1 element more than once within the HTML structure, and that error (seemingly out of your control) will have a negative impact on your SEO efforts.
Add page titles and meta descriptions
Every page you want to include in the Google search results must have a unique page title and unique meta description. The page title contributes to a better “findability” and a good meta description convince the visitor to click on your search result. Using the Yoast SEO plugin or All In One SEO you can easily optimize both elements within each page or post.
Avoid placing duplicate content.
Of course, I know you would never copy content from other websites, but you may look in panic at the archive pages that WordPress automatically creates. Suppose you have posted a number of blog posts and these blog posts are displayed via various archive pages (homepage, features posts, categories, tags, date, search results, and post type). You do not want all these archive pages to be indexed, because that is duplicate content. SEO WordPress plugin, for example, offers useful options for turning off the indexing of these archive pages. If you do not use these settings, you risk being penalized by Google for “duplicate content,” even if it’s your own content showing up twice.
Use the noFollow and noIndex attributes.
The noIndex attribute can not only be used for the duplicated archive pages, but also for some pages that are not unique or that you simply do not want to be indexed. The noFollow attribute is helpful if you link to other external websites and sources, and for these external links, you don’t wish to pass any link juice. This is especially useful if you create a huge blog post and link to many resources or articles that support your idea, but don’t want to support these websites by contributing to their backlinks nor want your own website to be spammy. Use the noFollow attribute to pass no authority to the linked website.
Activate the breadcrumbs function of the Yoast SEO plugin
Breadcrumbs (or bread crumbs?) are not only beneficial for Google but are also useful for your visitors. Through the breadcrumbs, your visitor always knows where he is in your website, and he can return to the parent category or section if needed. Oftentimes, breadcrumbs are already inbuilt in the WordPress theme. However, these are often not optimized, and as a result – the structured data is missing. This data helps Google to better “understand” the structure of your website. We recommend that you use the breadcrumbs structure from the Yoast SEO plugin.
Place the robots.txt file in the public HTML folder.
With the help of a robots.txt file, it is possible to tell the different (Google, Bing and other) bots which files or folders a search engine is allowed to index. The function works similar to the noIndex attribute but offers the possibility to exclude an entire folder or some similar files from indexation with one instruction. You will find tons of online tutorials about how to work with the robots.txt file, the best one is obviously from Google itself.
Register your XML sitemap
An additional way to inform Google about the structure of your website is to use the XML sitemap. With the help of any SEO plugin, this sitemap is not only generated, but the function also takes into account the noIndex settings on the page or section level. Register your XML sitemap on the Google Search Console and also put an entry in the robots.txt file.
Use redirects for deleted pages
Every website changes with time! Old URLs are being removed or replaced with new pages. It is important that you instruct Google and other search engines on how to deal with the changed URL. By using a redirect, it is possible to send a bot to the new location or simply tell that a location no longer exists.
Remove/replace broken links
Over time, it will unquestionably happen on every blog, that links placed in your blog post or website do not work (anymore). These can be links that refer to (external) pages that are no longer live. But, it may also happen that you have typed the link incorrectly. Check the links within your website using the Broken link checker plugin and keep an eye on the 404 reports within the Google Search Console. Websites with (too) many broken links, give the impression that the website is insufficiently maintained. Google can, therefore, give your website a worse position in the search results, and we don’t want that! Quickly inspect the 404 reports from the Google Search Console and make the necessary edits.
Two extra tips for our readers!
Link your website with the Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is the way to find out how your website scores in the Google search results. For each page and/or keyword you can see how often (for various keywords) a page is displayed in the search results, and how often this search result is being clicked.
In addition, the Google Search Console offers a number of other tools that you can use to find out how Google sees and evaluates your website. Link your WordPress website with the Google Search Console, it’s free, easy to do and you will have a comprehensive overview of your website’s relationship with Google.
Place structured data on your website.
An additional way to make your website (even more) transparent for search engines is to make use of the structured data. Google and other search engines can read structured data from your website that comply with the schema.org guidelines. This is the structured data that shows information within the results such as:
- Price and stock information
- The availability of hotel rooms
- Complete recipes with ingredients
- Reviews of products (star ratings)
- Contact information (customer service)
A complete overview of all opportunities can be found here. The use of structured data does not directly affect your position within the Google search results; however, users will click on a result quicker, which contributes positively to the ranking of your website. A large number of clicks shows that this page is popular and a sufficient number of clicks will be rewarded by a better position in search results.
Our 10 tips (and the 2 extra tips) indicate that when it comes to SEO technique, there is a lot to optimize and your work is never finished. Every adjustment you make helps the search engine understand your website better. Some improvements may not directly affect the position in the results, but they can increase the CTR (Click through rate), which indirectly has a positive effect on your ranking. Good luck!