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How does technical SEO work?

In part 1 of Fourth Estate Creative's SEO Untangled series, we cover technical SEO, with a list of ten simple points you need to know to get started.

SEO can be a minefield, especially when you are just starting out – it’s complex and constantly changing – but once you’ve grasped the basics you’ll find even a small amount of knowledge can make a big difference.

The main things to keep in mind are quality content and user experience – Google wants its results to reflect relevance and popularity – if you are producing content that people genuinely want to read then you are on to a winner. Ultimately, you want your SEO techniques to focus on helping Google find your pages, helping Google to understand your pages and helping visitors to use your pages.

For ease – we’ve broken this down into three core areas and put together a checklist of white hat SEO techniques within each.

There are a number of technical issues that can cause SEO problems and dramatically reduce your website’s search ranking. When developing your website keep in mind the following 10 pointers.

  1. Make sure an XML site map is installed.
  2. Make sure google bots (sometimes called spiders) are not blocked and can crawl your site. Otherwise the site wont index.
  3. Monitor your site speed from launch – you can use the Google page speed insight tool to diagnose and fix any issues.
  4. Protect content with SSL encryption – Google will choose a HTTPS site over a site that doesn’t have an SSL certificate.
  5. Responsive design – It’s absolutely crucial to ensure sure your site is mobile friendly – Google penalises those which are not (you can check on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test)
  6. Ensure your website has clear site architecture – this will help Google spiders discover new and updated pages, so they index and rank faster.
  7. Make sure all images on your site have alt text and a relevant file name so search engines can pick them up – and reduce all image file sizes for faster loading.
  8. Use short descriptive URLs.
  9. Install HTML snippets codes to your website. This also links in to on-page SEO as you should ensure the first paragraph of your content is optimised for appearing in Google’s featured snippets.
  10. Make sure you have relevant, descriptive, keyword-rich meta descriptions for each piece of content you upload – this doesn’t necessarily affect ranking, but it will affect your CTR (click-through rate).

If your site is already up and running then its a good idea to do a technical SEO audit – this will help you to identify any SEO issues such as no-index tags, too many H1 tags, 404 errors etc that keep your site from ranking. Alexa offers a free trial of their SEO Audit Tool which will help you identify missed opportunities.

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