It is hard to keep track of the numerous Google updates , SEO tricks and techniques but still it will be ever important to keep up and about with Google’s algorithms and crack down the maze of indexing details. 2017 was a year full of bashing done by Google as it hit hard several companies that played with ad-based content (full of adverts). Google also transformed the way its search results worked in order to give the SEO planners a hard time. Every year Google and several other search engines come up with new ways and regulations to up the game of SEO rankings and SERPs. Due to mobility being the rule of the game, Google shifted from its age-old website indexing procedure and introduced mobile indexing as part of its processes.
It must have been really hard to tend to your technical SEO techniques and actions as too much ducking and moving around with Google algorithm updates had been an important part of 2017. With limited time left to double-check the overall health of your website and conduct an SEO audit you might be in need of a checklist to follow in 2018.
So here we give you a comprehensive technical SEO checklist for 2018. By following this checklist you will be able to wade through all the technical SEO fundamentals and put into place all the right actions required by your website.
1. Install all essential tools
Every SEO tool that you install must be done in order to improve your existing situations. The tools must have the power to search and fix all problems that lie with your website.
Here are some of the most absolute essentials you require:
– Google Analytics: This is the most effective tool that lets you analyse, assess and track website traffic along with various other assorted information about your visitor base.
– Google Search Console: This tool measures overall site performance and visible errors. If your target audience base is from the US then you might consider signing up for Bing Webmaster Tools.
– Yoast SEO plugin (for WordPress): Yoast produces effective results as it lets you optimize everything starting from sitemap, content, keywords, metadata and various other fields(applicable for WordPress websites only).
– SEO auditing tool: With the change of times, SEO marketers have earned a special name – ‘Smarketers’ which roughly means search engine marketing professionals. Seoptimer, WebSite Auditor, Woorank, Semrush, Moz, SEO Site Checkup and Screaming Frog are some of the most popular and efficient website information extractors and SEO Audit tools (these tools make life easy by letting you achieve important insights into your websites and gain a strong foothold for future fixes).
Include these tools as they are the most standard and important ones that improve your technical SEO.
If you already have gained from Google’s free tools then you need to play your own SEO game by setting up new ways and processes. Tools recommended here will let you dig deeper into your analytics. With numerous options available in these tools there will be options that you will find suitable for your.
Immediate needs and budget are the two important factors that need to be considered by you before choosing all the tools and software support systems. Check your links’ health, find and fix all existing broken links before journeying upon new link-building opportunities.
Important Fixes and Steps To Ensure Healthy Website
Errors like 404/500 error pages, W3C validation errors, faulty redirects and other non-functional website links and options must be deleted and worked upon.
Dig as deep as you can in your keyword analysis quest. Optimize all of your keywords for all levels of rankings that include local and geo-specific options.
Search and find for content errors like thin content, duplicate content, canonicalization errors.
Research and regularly check on updates given by your competitors. A persistent spying on all competition will let you attain good measures for yourself and compare backlinks, anchor text, etc.
You can choose to be the best by having an eye on your immediate competitors as there is no guarantee to one’s position and success route map.
2. How to Improve indexing and crawlability of your Website?
Check your index status to find out duplicate URLs, non canonical URLs and links that contain a no-index metatag.
All you need to do is enter site – yourdomain.com into your target search engine – use your favorite SEO crawling software or log in to the Google Search Console and click on Google Index > Click on Index Status to generate your report.
Total number of indexed pages must be the same as the total number of pages you have. However, this is often not the case since blocks, errors and problems mar this process.
If you are manually reviewing your website indexing status, your robots.txt will help you discover some disallowed pages. It is most likely that you will miss many others. There are dedicated tools that will let you find all blocked pages, including those blocked by robots.txt instructions, noindex metatags and X-Robot-Tag headers.
3. Improve your ‘crawl budget’
Websites that are not huge in size and are medium or small can work well if you put aside a crawl budget for your website. Technically speaking crawl budget is “taking crawl rate and crawl demand together.” According to Google the term crawl budget is defined as “the number of URLs Googlebot can and prefers crawling.”
A web master’s job is to call the number of pages in a website that search engine spiders crawl in a given period of time within your “crawl budget.”
You must put in efforts to improve your crawl budget which will reflect on your overall improvement of your technical SEO. If you do not have a huge website then there is nothing you need to worry about.
To view your ‘crawl budget’ log in to Google Search Console and click on Crawl > Crawl Stats. It is not an easy job to find page-by-page breakdown of your crawl statistics so you will require a separate tool to have a detailed overview.
It has been found that there is a strong correlation between a search engine’s spider hits and external links. This suggests that when you expand your link profile your crawl budget will invariably improve.
It takes time to build links organically. In order to improve your crawl budget you must start working to fix your link profile. This means you must start auditing your internal links, fix all broken links and limit using uncrawlable media-rich files.
URL structures must be prompt and to the point. To improve your crawl budget ensure to have structured URLs that include 1-2 focused keywords. A website’s URL must be easily identifiable according to the topic.
4. Clean up your sitemap
When you improve your sitemap navigation you can be ensured of boosting your crawlability. All sitemap errors can be found by clicking on Crawl > Sitemaps in your Google Search Console.
Technical SEO requires tom many hard tasks to be followed. Few things about XML sitemap that need to be followed:
Not too large: Google provides a maximum limit of 10MB (uncompressed) and 50,000 URLs on one sitemap. When you exceed these limits break up your website into multiple sitemaps or create a sitemap index file before submitting it to Google.
Remain Up to date: Soon after adding up content to your site update your XML sitemap and submit it to Google.
Uncluttered: Remove all 400-level pages, redirects, non canonical URLs and blocked pages from your sitemap.
During optimization of your XML sitemap for search engines remember to update your HTML sitemaps as well. By doing this you will improve user experience for your site’s visitors.
5. Optimize metadata
Review your HTML code and improve your meta descriptions and title tags wherever they are required. Few general guidelines you can follow:
Add accurate content on all your pages.
It must be written within 70-71 characters for desktop and 78 characters for mobile.
Insert your brand/company name at the end of your title tags.
Don’t duplicate title tags across multiple pages.
Make it different from your H1 headline.
Lead with your most important keywords and remember never to stuff your title tags with keywords.
It must be kept within 200 characters for desktop and 170-172 characters for mobile.
Meta descriptions must be brief, readable and provide unique description of a page’s topic.
Naturally insert (so that it does not look like it has been done forcefully for SEO purposes. Words must flow naturally in the sentences to bring this natural reflection) 1-2 keywords in line with the title tag keywords.
Tag your main headline with an H1 tag (use only one H1 tag per page).
Use H2 tags for sub-headers or different topics on the same page.
If you have sub-headers within your sub-headers (lists, source links, etc.) use more number of H3–H6 tags in descending order.
6. Restore broken links and redirects
An overall website audit must be followed by fixing off all error messages, redirects and broken links. These errors and broken links cause damage to your page and also have an impact on your crawl budget. Errors slow down page times and also cause poor UX.
You must never devalue your page. Any level of error and malfunction in your page will cause severe damage to the overall indexing, crawling and optimization processes.
It is quite easy to fix broken internal links. All need to do is to find the offending pages and turn the broken link into a workable one and put them across an existing page. Your website structure must be proper and not a single page should be more than three clicks away from your homepage.
In order to fix broken external links contact the webmaster and ask them to fix or remove your link permanently. If you are unable to achieve that then you may have to set up a 301 redirect to an active page or disavow the dead link (especially if it’s from an unreputable source).
Initially fix chains of three or more redirects and complete the process of eliminating redirects permanently. Too many redirects in a row might result in search engine spiders falling short of reaching the end of the chain which might further result in unindexed web pages.
Orphan pages might come up during your SEO audit. These are pages are not linked to any other page of your website. Add links to them to ensure that visitors and search engines are able to find your page.
7. Use rich snippets and structured data
Overview content or snippets must be rich/specialized. Schema markup gives users a snapshot of your content before they click on the page. This means they can see thumbnail images, star ratings, and additional product details before clicking on the link.
Rich snippets like this help build consumer trust and often encourage clickthroughs.
Go to Schema.org to learn how to set up structured data for your pages. Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to review your snippets and make them relevant for putting up.
8. Optimize site speed for mobile
A recent study carried out by Google has come up with the finding that visitors are three times more likely to abandon a page that has 1-5-second load time than bounce from a page with a 1-3-second load time.
Google has always given importance to Site speed as according to the search engine giant speed impacts ranking. It can also be regarded as one of the most important technical SEO elements related to your conversions as well.
Slow load times are common especially in mobile sites. As Google states, “the majority of mobile websites are slow and bloated with too many elements,” and 70% of pages took nearly seven seconds to load their above-the-fold content.
Few tips to improve your site speed and mobile performance:
Run your page through Google’s free tools like PageSpeed Insights, Mobile-Friendly Test and Test My Site. Make the recommended changes.
Optimize your images.
To improve technical SEO on your page these actions are considerably good. With Google’s latest shift to mobile-first indexing your site ranking will largely depend on your mobile website’s performance.
9. Have an eye on the future (voice search, RankBrain and more)
Technical SEO aspects are important and large in number. You must maintain a daily chart to come up with solid improvements. Following a checklists like this one will surely bring you back in the race if you have fallen behind on your technical SEO routes. However it must always be remembered that nothing prepares you for upcoming trends and shifts. You can persistently brush up on other innovations felt important by you to solve customer pain points. Some of them are:
Voice search: Local businesses are currently being discovered via voice chat big time. With queries like “I want to buy _____” or “What are _____ businesses near me?”, optimized voice search results will help your customers find you.
RankBrain/AI: RankBrain lets Google understand the best applicable result for the user’s query based on historical data. The algorithm is focused on quality for the end-user which means optimizing the user experience is all important if you want to achieve traffic rush and potential buyers to come to your website.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), mobile apps and progressive Web apps (PWA):
With the phenomenal rise in mobile usage Google has shifted its focus on mobile-first indexing. Developers and Designers are working hard to come up with smart UI and UX implementations to pull the traffic triggers.
Their main intent is to make the mobile-Web superior, efficient and useful.
Recent surveys have come up with results that show how after performing a major site audit 39% of SEOs tackle technical SEO first. Focusing on improvement of technical SEO will give you a future ready roadmap because it gives you a solid base upon which you can keep building everything else.
General SEO must work hand in hand with Technical SEO processes.
You must remember that great content will always rule the game. Based on rich content everything else must shape up. Build citations in prominent directories and create a strong and noticeable social media presence. These little measures will up your brand presence and brand value as a whole. With the rise in your brand valuer will come your brand positioning which will decide on the success route of your business.
You must remember that every aspect of your website works together to establish you as an authority in your niche and you must keep on improving your Web presence.