6 Point Technical SEO Checklist for Non-Developers
Mention Technical SEO and most of us run a mile. But with 81% of consumers conducting online searches before buying, and an estimated 4.49 billion indexed web pages, the time to master some new skills is now.
We’ve put together a handy checklist, specifically for all you non-developers. We’ll be showing you how to use the checklist as your very own technical SEO audit, explain how to implement changes and point you towards some great tools for success.
What is Technical SEO?
When it comes to SEO many place an emphasis on content creation/optimization (otherwise referred to as on-page SEO) and external link building (off-page SEO). Technical SEO is the foundation on which these two should be built and ensures that your site is Search Engine friendly. Without it you could be hindering your site’s chances of being indexed and ranking well.
What is a Technical SEO Audit?
A technical SEO audit is an assessment into how Search Engine friendly your site is. Instead of focusing on great content to boost visibility, a technical audit allows you to identify and address any technical issues that may be hindering your contents’ changes of being seen. It examines a number of key technical criteria that will increase your site’s performance if optimized correctly.
Use the follow technical SEO audit to manually examine your own site and rectify any issues that arise.
1. Website Speed
Website or page load speed is one of the biggest ranking factors and therefore requires consideration. When it comes to performance – you can always be faster, and there are several ways to ensure that pages load quickly without developer knowledge.
How to Optimize
- Simplify page templates: Remove any unnecessary plugins, tracking codes, advertisements and widgets.
- Minimize image sizes: Use an editor like Adobe Photoshop to save your images for web-based devices. This compresses image file sizes while retaining image quality.
- Set browser’s cache: The browser cache stores website resources locally, on a computer. It remembers a site that you have visited and will be able to load it much quicker on subsequent visits. This can be changed accordingly to improve website speed.
There are a number of tools for testing website speed available which we have already put together for you.
2. Secure Browsing: HTTPS
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) defines how messages are formatted and transmitted. HTTPS transmits web information securely, builds trust and credibility, and improves performance. If that wasn’t enough, back in 2014 Google announced that it was a ranking factor.
How to Optimize
- If you haven’t already, purchase an SSL certificate and migrate your site to HTTPS URLs (This isn’t necessarily a quick fix but it will be worth it in the long run).
- Check that all assets are hosted on new secure URLs
- Use a tool like Screaming Frog to compile a list of all URLs and find all non-HTTPS assets such as images, CSS files, videos and scripts
- Update your Robots.txt and XML Sitemap to include HTTPS URLs.
WooRank’s very own Site Crawler tool is great for identifying HTTP assets hosted on HTTPS URLs.
3. Duplicate Content
Having duplicate content on your site is bad news and, unfortunately, search engines view sites starting with HTTP, HTTPS and WWW. as separate sites meaning a huge potential for duplicate content.
How to Optimize
The easiest way around this is to set your prefered domain in Google Search Console. Your preferred domain will receive all link juice and will be the one to appear in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs),
Use Google Search Console to search for duplicate meta descriptions and title tags too. Under Search Appearance > HTML Improvements, look to see if duplicates in these sections have been identified. Re-write any duplicate descriptions and remember that title tags need to include your page’s primary keyword for best results.
URLs are an important part of site architecture and should be constructed with both search engines and users in mind.
How to Optimize
- Demonstrate site structure and hierarchy: For example, www.exampleclothing.com/girls-clothing/accessorize/hats clearly tells the user that they are looking at girl’s hats in the “accessorize” section of the site
- Include keywords: Using your page’s primary keyword in the URL tells search engines how relevant the page is to a certain keyword or topic
- Use hyphens: Hyphens (-) should be used to separate words. Do not use underscores as search engines don’t recognize them. Two word separated by underscores will just look like one word to Google.
*TIP: We recommend only changing URLs that are really hard to read. If you make changes to your URLs you’ll have to create a 301 redirect to the new URL and too many of these can affect site performance. *
Search Engines need to be able to crawl and index your pages in order to show them in SERPs.
These are text files that essentially list every URL on your site and search engines use these to crawl your site more efficiently. It’s not a ranking signal but it will help your pages and content be found and understood more easily.
These are plain text files that help crawlers navigate your site. It tells crawlers what they can and cannot crawl.
How to optimize
- Submit your XML sitemap to Google through Google Search Consol, under the Crawl section. Bing also has a webmaster tool where your site map can be submitted.
- Make sure that your robots.txt file isn’t blocking Searching Engines from crawling your site. To allow all search engines to crawl your entire site, your robots.txt file should look this:
There are loads of free tools for sitemap creation and you can test your Robots.txt file in Google Search Consol.
6. Mobile Friendliness
At the tail-end of 2016 Google announced Mobile-First Indexing, which means that results ranked in SERPs are based on the mobile version of a site’s content – even results shown to those using a non-mobile device. This is because searches on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have now surpassed searches being made on laptops and PCs. It is therefore important to
- Establish a mobile version of your site (if you don’t already have one)
- Optimize your mobile version.
How to optimize
There are several aspects to ensuring that your mobile site is compatible for handheld devices:
- Use a responsive website design to ensure that it adapts to screen size
- Make sure that information and CTAs are accessible without having to zoom in or out
- Carefully consider the information that appears above the fold (ATF). This refers to the information that fits on the screen before the need to scroll down further
- Disable Flash as many devices are not compatible with Flash elements
- Ensure that the user isn’t required to scroll horizontally. This is terrible for the user experience
- Optimize your mobile speed by minifying code, reducing image size and keep the number of redirects to a minimum.
The checklist above is a great way of conducting a manual technical SEO audit. Alternatively, you could use our very own Woorank auditing tool to instantly highlight areas that require attention. Use it in conjunction with this checklist to rectify any potential issues.
SEO can sometimes feel a little overwhelming but some of the most effective ways to enhance performance is by going through the technical SEO checklist above. Keep in mind that a Search Engine’s main aim is to provide a great customer experience and they do this by finding the creme de la creme of web pages to serve to its users. By optimising these technical SEO elements you are effectively telling Search Engines that your website is geared up to be a website of shear quality. Master these technical aspects and you’ll notice improved visibility and increased traffic.