Let’s kick things off with a chapter on the basics.
Specifically, in this chapter, I’m going to cover why technical SEO is still SUPER important in 2024.
I’ll also show you what is (and isn’t) considered “technical SEO”.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is the process of ensuring that a website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines with the goal of improved organic rankings. Important elements of technical SEO include crawling, indexing, rendering, and website architecture.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
You can have the best site with the best content.
But if your technical SEO is messed up?
Then you’re not going to rank.
At the most basic level, Google and other search engines need to be able to find, crawl, render and index the pages on your website.
But that’s just scratching the surface. Even if Google DOES index all of your site’s content, that doesn’t mean your job is done.
That’s because, for your site to be fully optimized for technical SEO, your site’s pages need to be secure, mobile optimized, free of duplicate content, fast-loading… and a thousand other things that go into technical optimization.
That’s not to say that your technical SEO has to be perfect to rank. It doesn’t.
But the easier you make it for Google to access your content, the better chance you have to rank.
How Can You Improve Your Technical SEO?
Like I said, “Technical SEO” isn’t just crawling and indexing.
To improve your site’s technical optimization, you need to take into account:
Fortunately, I’m going to cover all of those things (and more) in the rest of this guide.
Chapter 2:Site Structure and Navigation
In my opinion, your site’s structure is “step #1” of any technical SEO campaign.
(Yes, even coming before crawling and indexing)
First off, many crawling and indexing issues happen because of poorly-designed site structure. So if you get this step right you don’t need to worry as much about Google indexing all of your site’s pages.
Second, your site structure influences everything else you do to optimize your site… from URLs to your sitemap to using robots.txt to block search engines from certain pages.
The bottom line here is this: a strong structure makes every other technical SEO task MUCH easier.
With that, let’s get into the steps.
Use a Flat, Organized Site Structure
Your site structure is how all of the pages on your website are organized.
In general, you want a structure that’s “flat”. In other words: your site’s pages should all be only a few links away from one another.
Why is this important?
A flat structure makes it easy for Google and other search engines to crawl 100% of your site’s pages.
This isn’t a big deal for a blog or local pizza shop website. But for an ecommerce site with 250k product pages? A flat architecture is a BIG deal.
You also want your structure to be super organized.
In other words, you don’t want a site architecture like this:
This messy structure usually creates “orphan pages” (pages without any internal links pointing to them).
It also makes it hard to ID and fix indexing issues.
You can use the Semrush “Site Audit” feature to get a bird’s eye view of your site structure.
This is helpful. But it’s not super visual.
To get a more visual look at how your pages are linked together, check out Visual Site Mapper.
It’s a free tool that gives you an interactive look at your site’s architecture.
Consistent URL Structure
There’s no need to overthink your URL structure. Especially if you run a small site (like a blog).
That said: you do want your URLs to follow a consistent, logical structure. This actually helps users understand “where” they are on your site.
It scans your site for duplicate content (or thin content). And lets you know which pages need to be updated.
The Semrush site audit tool also has a “Content Quality” section that shows you if your site has the same content on several different pages.
These tools focus on duplicate content on your own website.
“Duplicate content” also covers pages that copy content from other sites.
To double-check that your site’s content is unique, I recommend Copyscape’s “Batch Search” feature.
Here’s where you upload a list of URLs and see where that content appears around the web.
If you find a snippet of text that shows up on another site, search for that text in quotes.
If Google shows your page first in the results, they consider you the original author of that page.
And you’re good to go.
Note: If other people copy your content and put it on their website, that’s their duplicate content problem. Not yours. You only need to worry about content on your site that’s copied (or super similar) to content from other websites.
Noindex Pages That Don’t Have Unique Content
Most sites are going to have pages with some duplicate content.
And that’s OK.
This becomes a problem when those duplicate content pages are indexed.
If you run a huge site, it’s hard to keep track of all of the pages in your sitemap.
In fact, many sitemaps that I look at have pages with 404 and 301 status codes. Considering that the main goal of your sitemap is to show search engines all of your live pages, you want 100% of the links in your sitemap to point to live pages.