Technical SEO Checklist For 2021

A 28-Point Technical SEO Checklist For Bloggers (Improve your ranking)

Technical SEO is probably one of the most underrated parts of SEO.

You may have the best content marketing strategy and plenty of amazing contents for your website/blog, but if your site has unresolved technical SEO issues, you will struggle to rank your site on the top position of Google’s SERPs.

Thus, it’s crucial that you understand what is technical SEO and how to get it right on your website/blog.

One good thing with technical SEO is once you do a technical SEO audit of your website and fix all the potential problems, you won’t have to deal with it again and again like On-page & Off-page SEO.

Technical seo checklist

In this post, I am going to share all the key aspects of Technical SEO along with 16 technical SEO tips that you can implement right away to improve your site’s search presence.

Plus, I’ve also included a Technical SEO Checklist in this guide, which will help you put these technical SEO tips into action.

CHAPTER #1

Contents

Off-page SEO Introduction

Before we dive into the Technical SEO optimization techniques, let’s answer some basic question that you might have while starting with Technical SEO

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is the process of optimizing your website to meet the technical requirement of modern search engines with the goal of gaining higher ranking.

Difference between On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO vs Technical SEO

In general, all the Search engine optimization practices are categorized under 3 different buckets: On-page, Off-Page and Technical SEO.

Let’s quickly understand what’s the basic difference between each of them:

On-Page SEO:  On-page SEO mainly deals with content on your website. It refers to all the optimization you do to tell the search engine, what your content is about. Like – Placing Keywords in your content, adding alt-text in images, writing short URL, etc.

Off-Page SEO:   Off-Page SEO refers to all the activities that you and others do outside your website to improve the ranking of your page. Getting links from another site, Social media promotion and press mention are a few of the most important aspects of Off-Page SEO.

Technical SEO: With Technical SEO optimization, you help search engines to crawl, index and render your website accurately. 

Why should you work on your site’s technical SEO?

Most website owners especially beginners often ignore Technical SEO and mainly focus on On-Page optimization and Off-page SEO practice like Link Building.

But always remember that all your SEO efforts will drive results only if a search engine can crawl and index your site in their database.

Now if you have an old website, you must be thinking “Oh my site shows up in search results,  that means I don’t have to worry about Technical SEO!”

No, my friend Technical SEO is not just about getting your site indexed in search engines.

Your website architecture, security, mobile optimization, Structured data, canonicalizations all are part of Technical SEO.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a tech geek in order to deal with all these things.

In this post, I will make each and every aspect of your site’s technical SEO easy to understand and implement.

Let’s get started.

CHAPTER #2

Website Loading Speed & Time

In this section, we will discuss how important your website loading time is for the growth of your blog/business and how you can improve your website loading time.

In today’s time, People wants things fast. Speed has proven to be not only a differentiator but a way to build a business.

Google gets this…

And since 2010, speed has been a factor in its ranking algorithm.

BTW that’s not news…

What has changed is that more people using their mobile device to search, shop and buy.

So, in the mid of 2017, Google announced that “it will split its searches result into two indexes”.

One for desktop and One for mobile.

And that’s why speed is once again a priority for marketers, SEOs and website owners.

Eventually, Google wants to return to a single index, but this time ranking will be based on mobile signals and content.

Mobile first indexing

This supports another trend SEO experts are tracking – user behavior. In other words, how someone interacts with your site could impact your search engine rankings.

Click-through rates from search results, time spent on page and return rate all important. But bounce rate and conversion are where speed really matters.

So, how fast is fast enough?

3 seconds, that’s all the time you have.

Double click (owned by Google) found that average load time for the mobile sites is 19 seconds over a 3G connection. That’s not nearly good enough when 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load.

average mobile loading time

And let’s talk about the bottom line.

Akamai found that every one second delay in load time, result in a 7% reduction in conversions. And if an eCommerce company is making sale of $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

This is why it makes complete sense to work on your website loading time:

01. Improve Server Response Time

Server response time is the amount of time passes between a user requesting a page in a browser and a server responding to that request.

It is usually measured by TTFB (Time to First Byte). TTFB is basically how many milliseconds (ms) browser takes to receive the first byte of page faster sending an HTTP request.

What is a Good Server Response Time?

According to Google and other speed test tools, such as Pingdom, you should aim for a server response time lower than 200 milliseconds. A 100 milliseconds TTFB is ideal and everything over 500 milliseconds is an issue.

ideal server response time

How to improve your server response time?

The very first factor and in fact the most crucial one because everything else will follow – choose a reliable and fast hosting provider.

If you are experiencing slow server response times, I bet you have hosted your site with GoDaddy, EIG brands (Hostgator or Bluehost), or another low-quality cheap host.

Try to stay away from these cheap hosting providers and use a fast and scalable hosting provider like DreamHost (especially if you are running a blog or small business site).

DreamHost web hosting services

In case, if you are running a big website – the best fit for you will be a dedicated environment where you can control and optimize the server components according to your performance requirements.

For example, selecting a hosting provider like CloudWays gives you full flexibility to control and optimize the server components as per your website needs. (Unlike shared hosting where you get to share a limited component with hundreds of other websites)

After choosing your web hosting, you have the option to configure and optimize your website.

Using simple optimization techniques like — enabling browser caching, using a CDN &, HTTP/2 implementation, and upgrading to latest PHP version — will make a huge difference in reducing your website response time.

Recommended resources:

(1.) 15 simple ways to increase your website speed (Must read guide)

(2.) Top 10 Free CDN Service to reduce searver response time

02. Optimize images for web

They say “an image is worth thousands of words” which is undoubtedly true. People love to interact with visuals rather than block of texts.

However, having great visuals can take toll on your website performance.

According to HTTP Archive, on an average 49% of a website weight is comprised of images.

Average bytes per content in a website size

So, if you are able to reduce the size of your images without reducing the picture quality, then it will have a direct and positive impact on loading speed and user experience on your website.

Fortunately, there are a lot of little things you can do throughout the image creation process to optimize your image’s file size for the web:

(1). Choose the best image file type

While saving your images directly from the camera or from a photo editing software like “Photoshop”, you have to specify your file type.

The most common file types for using on the internet are PNGs, JPEGs, and GIFs. And as you can guess, they all have their own pros and cons.

To keep things simple for you, use JPEGs for photos with lost of colours, PNGs for simple images (like-screenshot), and GIF for animated images.

How to choose image file type

(2). Resize your image before uploading

One of the easiest methods to optimize your image for the web is to resize them before you upload on your website.

Especially if you are working on raw images taken from DSLR camera, their dimensions are often too large than you actually need.

For example, if your WordPress theme display photos at 700 x 700, but you are uploading a photo with a resolution of 1800 x 1800, all those additional pixel sizes are just increasing your image size and slowing your site.

Use a tool like Preview (for Macs), Paint (for Windows), or Canva (a browser tool), Photoshop (editing software) to resize your image before uploading.

(3). Compress images to reduce file size

Once your image is saved in the right file format and appropriate dimension, one last thing you can do to optimize them before uploading is compressing them.

You can use a tool like TinyPNG or JPEG Mini for easily compressing your image within a few clicks.

Tinypng

(4). Automate image optimization with a WordPress plugin

At this point, you might be thinking that image optimization is a lot of work – honestly speaking, it actually can be!

But there is also an easy way to streamline a few of these optimization steps, and that is by installing an image optimization plugin on your WordPress website.

I use ShortPixel plugin here on NerdBlogging to automatically optimize all of my images.

Shortpixel

03. Limit the Number of Resources & HTTP Requests

When a user visit your site their web browser needs to make a separate HTTP request for every single file on your website.

These files might include HTML, style sheet,images, embedded video or JavaScript or others.

The more files present on your website, the more HTTP request user’s browser will need to make. The more HTTP requests, the longer it takes your page to load.

This is why minimizing HTTP request & resources will speed up load times for your site.

First use a tool like Gtmetrix to check how many HTTP requests your site is making.

Total http request
Go to waterfall chart tab to check all the HTTP request being made on your web page.

Currently, the average number of requests per page is around 70. But at the end it will depend on your page. If it is a huge page, then obviously it can have more request.

The best thing you can do is combine and minify different files present on your website.

Every CSS, JavaScript and HTML file present on your site adds to the number of HTTP request your site need to make every time.

So by combining and minifying these multiple file, you can not only reduce the number of HTTP request, but also the total size of your website.

Using a premium caching plugin like WP Rocket, you can minify and combine your files with in a click.

Install WP Rocket >> go to “File Optimization” tab >> check the files you want to minify and combine >> hit “Save Changes” button.

WP rocket file optimize

Another thing you can do is evaluate and reduce external scripts.

External scripts are basically code pulled from other third-party locations. They include Gravatar image, google analytics, Google fonts, social share button etc.

While some of them might be vital for your website, but few of them will be definitely clutter. Find any that are unnecessary and eliminate them.

04. Leverage Browser Caching

Almost all the speed testing tool will recommend using browser caching to reduce website loading time and improve performance.

browser caching recommendation by Gt Metrix

So, what the heck is “Browser Caching“?

Well, caching is when user’s browser save static copies of your website pages and posts.

So that, on subsequent visits, your content can be re-loaded faster because user’s browser doesn’t have to contact your website’s server every time in order to access the requested resources.

How to enable browser caching on your website?

Well, a caching plugin like WP Rocket lets you enable browser caching with in a click.

wp-rocket-cache-settings(1)

05. Check your server uptime

Server uptime basically refers to the ability of your web hosting to keep your website online.

Normally, every web hosting provider keeps your site down for a few minutes every month because of server maintenance and other technical reason.

But there are few hosting companies (especially shared host) who have very bad stability and tend to keep your site down for a very long period every month.

In that case, Google will start decreasing the ranking of your site and even no-index your site.

How can you check your site’s uptime?

UptimeRobot is a good third party service that lets you monitor your site’s uptime for free of cost.

uptime-robot-dashboard

All you need to do is create a free account on UptimeRobot and you are good to go. The tool will also notify you via email & SMS whenever your site gets down.

If you experience issues with website uptime, upgrade your hosting service to a managed server like SiteGround.

CHAPTER #3

Website Functionality & Usability Checklist

Once you have made sure your website loads fast, now its time to focus on common technical SEO functiions to ensure your website get crawlled, indexed and ranked effectively.

06. Use the Secure Protocol – HTTPS

Secure socket layer (SSL) creates a layer of protection between the web server (the software responsible for fulfilling the online request) and the user’s browser, thereby making your site secure.

A valid SSL certificate is denoted by a domain begins with “https://” as opposed to “http://” (Without SSL) 

Plus, once a valid SSL is installed on a website, you will also notice a lock symbol in the URL bar.

HTTPs padlock sign

In the past, SSL was necessary for only eCommerce websites but with Google confirming HTTPS as a ranking signal, SSL is now mandatory for every kind of site.

HTTPS

How to get an SSL certificate for your site?

Many web hosting like SiteGround, WPX, Kinsta and many others provide Free SSL with hosting plan.

For example, I use SiteGround web hosting for all of our blogs and they provide 1 click option to install SSL on websites.

SSL certificate siteground issues

In case, if your hosting provider does not provide free SSL then you can also manually install SSL with Let’s Encrypt.

07.  Specify a Preferred Domain Version

When setting up your website, you need to choose your preferred domain type.

By doing so, you can tell the search engine whether you prefer the www or non-www version of your site to be displayed in the search results.

Because by default, a website is accessible with both www and without www in front of a domain name. 

For example, if your domain is xyz.com, anyone can access your site by both http://www.xyz.com and http://xyz.com (i.e. without the www).

While this is completely fine for users, it is confusing for search engines (Google), because they consider both versions of your domain as two different websites.

And this will result in indexing issues, duplicate content issues as well as dispersed SEO value on your site.

So, to prevent all these problems, you need to select a preferred URL and inform Google about the same.

Which is better WWW or Non-WWW?

See, from SEO or ranking perspective there is no benefit of using one over another.

It all depends on your personal choice.

While I always like to keep WWW before my domain name as it looks more natural to me but there is nothing wrong if you want to go with a non-WWW domain.

All it matters is, you select the one version and stay consistent with them throughout your lifetime.

How to inform Google about your preferred domain?

Previously, Google used to provide an option in the Search Console to inform them about your preferred domain type. But last year they removed this option and advised webmasters to rely on canonical tags (which we’ll cover shortly)…

Preferred domain

08. Check the mobile-responsiveness of your site

According to Stat counter latest report, more than half of the web traffic comes from smartphones.

Global mobile website traffic

 If we were to go back to 2011, this figure was at a meager 4.70% afterward, this number continues to grow each year.

This percentage (%) is even higher in some areas of the world. For example, more than 65% of internet traffic in Asia (countries like India & china) comes from smartphones.

This means if you are not optimizing your each pages of websites for mobile devices, you are likely not making the most of your traffic.

Additionally, it might be preventing you from getting more organic traffic.

With Mobilegeddon update, Google has made it very clear that they want to serve mobile friendly web page to their users.

WSJ article about mobile friendly website

That means, optimizing your website for mobile devices is a must, even though it might seems like a another chore to do.

Not only it will help you gain more organic traffic from Google, but it will also help you with improved conversion rate.

To ensure your website is mobile friendly, you can use Google’s mobile friendly test tool.

Mobile friendly test

If your website doesn’t pass this test, that means you have a lot of things to do…

Helpful resource: How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly (Website Builder Expert)

And even if you site pass mobile friendly test, you should regularly check for mobile usability issues in your search console account.

Because just having homepage of your website mobile friendly doesn’t make any sense, you each and every page of website should be mobile responsive.

Fortunately, with Google Search Console’s Mobile Usability report, you can easily find out those pages which aren’t optimized for mobile users.

Search console mobile usability report

In fact, they even give you details of specific things that are wrong with your page, so that you know exactly what to fix.

Mobile usability report issues

09. Setup 301 redirect correctly after site migration

As a website owner, there are various situation you may face where you feel migrating your website is the best option or even the only option.

For example, you may have to change your existing domain to a new domain or may be you want to move from HTTP to HTTPS.

No matter what’s your reason of site migration, it is crucial to set up correct redirection after migration.

To avoid loosing all your existing link equity and have broken pages on your website, it is best to setup a correct 301 redirection.

A 301 redirect tells the search engine that an existing page has permanently moved to a new location.

How to set up a 301 redirect?

Well, there are various way to set up a 301 redirect, but the most easiest way is to edit your site’s .htaccess file.

 Find htaccess file

Here are some snippets of code for adding common types of 301 redirect via .htaccess:

Redirect an old page to a new page:

Redirect 301 /old-page.html /new-page.html 

Redirect an old domain to a new domain:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^oldsite.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.oldsite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://newsite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

Redirect entire domain from HTTP to HTTPS:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Once you correctly set up the redirection, use a SEO audit tool like SEMrush to audit all your pages and check if any redirection loop or broken link present on your site.

Plus, after site migration you have to also submit your new sitemap and update your existing internal links.

10. Make sure your resources are crawlable

Having non-crawlable resources can be a critical technical SEO issue for any website.

Crawling is the very first step, right before indexing, which comes and puts your content in the internet user’s eyes.

Basically, Search engine (Google) send a bot to your web page or web post to crawl the data. Once everything is crawled, your content is sent to the indexer which renders the page and finally your page start appearing in Google search result.

Search engine ranking process

It is very important that the website visitor sees the same content that Search engine bot does.

For example, if your CSS files are closed from indexing, the search engine would not be able to see the page like a website user does. The same thing applies to JavaScript, if it is not crawlable.

However, with JS (JavaScript), things are a bit more complicated, especially if your site is heavily built using AJAX.

In the end, if you are not blocking your CSS or JavaScript files from crawling, Google will be able to render and understand your page/post like modern browsers.

Old Google search console used to have many features for monitoring the crawling and rendering of your web page.

Update: New search console also has a URL inspection tool that lets you check the status of how Google sees your webpage.

URL inspection tool Google search console

The tool provides important information of a web page like last crawl date, the status of that last crawl and any crawling or indexing errors.

In case if you made some changes on your web page and want google to quickly notice it, you can request Google to do so by clicking on “Request Indexing“.

11. Do you have an XML sitemap?

An XML sitemap is an XML file that lists all the pages/posts of your site along with their Title, URL, published and updated date.

This helps search engines find and crawl all the necessary pages of your website effectively.

How To Create an XML Sitemap?

Well, there are few online tools like XML-sitemap.org that help you generate a sitemap of your site in just one click.

Once you generate sitemap from these websites, you can upload that XML file into your site’s root directory.

Free sitemap generator tool

But these online websites are good for small websites & blogs which are not updated frequently. 

Because if you have a blog like me which is updated twice or thrice every week with new content, then you have to regenerate and upload your updated sitemap every week.

In this scenario, you can use the sitemap option which is given by your SEO plugin (WordPress user).

Yes, whether you use Rank Math or Yoast SEO, both plugins have an easy option to enable sitemap on your site.

Rank Math sitemap option

The best thing about the sitemap created with your SEO plugin is that it will be updated automatically every time you add or remove a page from your site.

Once you have an XML sitemap on your site, you also need to inform Google about the same.

How to submit your sitemap to Google?

Once you have created your sitemap, you need to tell Google where your sitemap file is stored.

For that, login into your Google Search console account and navigate to the Sitemap section (from left sidebar) and finally submit your sitemap URL.

Google search console sitemap

12. Optimize your Robots.txt File

Robots.txt is a text file that you can create to gives instruction to search engine crawlers about how to crawl and index pages on your site.

It is usually stored in the root directory (main folder of your site). Here is a basic format of the robot.txt file:

User-agent: [user-agent name]
Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]

User-agent: [user-agent name]

Allow: [URL string to be crawled]
Sitemap: [URL of your XML Sitemap]

When search engine robot crawls your website, it will first check the /robot.txt file to get instruction for what to crawl and what not to crawl.

In case, if there is no robots.txt file created for your site, then the Search engine will crawl each and every section of your site and index into Google.

While this will not have much impact, if you have a new blog and a few pieces of contents.

But as your site will start growing and having a lot of content, then you would likely want to have better control over how your website is crawled and indexed.

Why?

Because search engine bots have a certain crawl limit.

This is why it becomes important to disallow search bots from crawling unnecessary pages like your WordPress admin pages, plugin files, and themes folder.

By disallowing unnecessary pages, you save your crawl quota. This help search engine crawls more important pages on your site and indexes them quickly.

What Does an Ideal Robots.txt File Should Look Like?

If your site is built on WordPress CMS, I’ll recommend you to add the following rules in your robots.txt file:

User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /readme.html
Disallow: /refer/ 

Sitemap: http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml

These rules basically tell search engine bots to index all the post/pages/images of your site, and not index WordPress plugin files, WordPress admin area, the WordPress readme file, and affiliate links.

One more thing, adding sitemaps to robots.txt file makes it easy for search engine bots to find all the important pages of your site.

Additional resource – How to check Robot.txt file of your website (WPBeginner)

13. Make sure everything you want to be indexed is indexable

I know I’ve already discussed this in checklist no#7, but it is worth mentioning again here.

Because aside from checking all your important pages are crawlable in your robot.txt file, there are several other points to cover to ensure that search engine bots are sent to your preferred pages.

For example, the X-Robot-tag are used to prevent indexing of specific web elements like Images, and the noindex meta tags are also another examples of functions that influence the indexing of your web pages.

This is why it’s worth digging into details of each page to ensure your every important page are indexed into the search engine.

How can I check Indexability of each page?

Open your search console account and head over to Coverage page in the Index tab.

Click on Excluded option check all the page which are excluded from indexing.

Excluded page google search console

Here you will get list of each page which are not indexed with the proper reason of they being not indexed.

No index page search console

For example, if I click on “excluded by noindex tag”, I will get a list of all my pages which are excluded for indexing by using noindex tag.

Page excluded by no index tag

14. Do you have proper pagination on your site?

Pagination is a process which divides content across a series of web pages. It is a widely used technique by website owners to divide the list of articles or products into a digestible format.

Pagination

Google officially announced rel=”next” rel=”prev” in 2011.

This link element could be placed in the <head> of a page to give a strong hint to Google that all the paginated pages are linked together and the most important paginated page should be ranked in Google’s SERPs (usually the first page).

But in early 2019, Google made an official announcement that they no longer used rel=prev/next for pagination.

That means, Google neither use this link element to consolidate indexing properties nor for identifying the most appropriate paginated page to be ranked in search results.

For example, if a website’s blog section has 3 paginated pages:

  1. https://www.nerdblogging.com/blog/
  2. https://www.nerdblogging.com/blog/2/
  3. https://www.nerdblogging.com/blog/3/

Each of these pages is now treated as a single page which needs to stand on its own.

So, if you already had rel=prev/next implemented for pagination on your site, should you remove them?

No, leave them as it is and follow some traditional SEO optimization techniques to optimize pagination:

  • Each page in the sequence of pages should have a canonical URL that points to itself.
  • Don’t noindex paginated pages
  • Don’t nofollow links to paginated pages
  • Don’t include paginated pages in the XML sitemap

Must-Read Guide – How To Get Pagination right on your website (ContentKing)

15. Maximize your crawl budget

Crawl budget refers to the number of pages search engine bots will crawl on a website within a given time frame.

Because the crawl budget is not infinite for a website, you need to make sure you’re prioritizing your most important pages for crawling.

Note: If you have a small website with few pages and posts, you shouldn’t be worried about your crawl budget.

Here are a few tips to ensure you are maximizing your crawl budget:

  • Fix or redirect broken links of your site
  • Make sure your CSS and Javascript files are crawlable.
  • Use HTML Whenever Possible
  • Take Care of Your URL Parameters
  • Keep your sitemap updated
  • Remove or canonicalize duplicate pages.
  • Check your crawl stats regularly

Additional resources on learning more about Crawl Budget:

16. Check Your SEO Log File

SEO log file analysis is an important part of any technical SEO audits. Log files are the only data that are 100% accurate when it comes to understanding how search engines crawl your website.

It is basically a file output made from a web server containing ‘hits,’ or a record of all requests that the server has received. It contains important details like time and date in which the request was made, requested URL, response Code, the requests IP address, the user agent and more.

With those data, you can analyze search engine crawl behaviour and determine some interesting metrics like:

  • Is your crawl budget spent efficiently?
  • What accessibility errors were met during the crawling process?
  • Where are the areas of crawl deficiency?
  • What are the most active pages on your website?
  • Which pages does Google not know about?
  • Is your site architecture optimized?

These are just a few examples of the potential of log analysis.

But how do you access your log file?

Well, you can use Screaming Frog to identify crawled URLs and analyse search bot data.

CHAPTER #4

Content Optimization Checklist

Here are some technical SEO tips for your website content to improve your visibility in Google’s search result.

17.  Check for Orphan Pages

Every page/post on your website should be linked to at least one other page – preferably more, depending upon how important the page is.

When a page is not linked from any other page on your site, it’s called an orphan page.

Essentially, when a page is not being linked to, it do not receive any topical authority passed through internal linking and can be considered a low quality gateway page.

The quickest fix here is to either add at least one internal link from within relevant content or remove them from your site (if they have no use).

18. Find and Fix Duplicate Content Issues

The first Panda update was in 2011, which affected more than 11.7% of search queries (massive).

The update was meant to stop websites with low quality or duplicate content from ranking into Google’s top search results. Sites that has big low quality content issues were punished severely.

With constant panda update in last 8-9 years, Google is getting better and better at detecting duplicate content, and removing sites from Google’s top search result.

The need of this update is obvious, duplicate content is bad for internet users, which is why search engines don’t favor it.

In addition, it can also confuse search engine because they don’t know which version(s) to include/exclude from their indices.

Luckily, it’s pretty simple to find out all the duplicate content and remove them from your site before Google gives penalty to you.

Step 1 – Find duplicate content:

Enter your domain into Siteliner tool, and the tool will find any duplicate content present on your site, plus sort it by percent match:

Duplicate contents of a website

You can further click on duplicate content graph to check the exact duplicate pages along with matching number of words corresponding to original page.

Check duplicate content of your website

Step 2 – Get rid of duplicate content issues: 

There are 3 main ways in which you can get rid of duplicate content issues:

  1. Delete the duplicate content
  2. Add a canonical URL to each version
  3. Reduce the amount of duplicate content

The first option is obvious. If you find any duplicate pages that are not adding any value to your reader just delete them from your site.

Another option you have is adding canonical link to your duplicate page. A canonical link basically tells search engine that which version of a page (original) to take into account when indexing your web page.

Last but not the least option you have is to rewrite all the duplicate words and sentence present in your post/page.

Additional resources:

1. How to find duplicate content issues on your website (Blue Frog DM)

2. How to deal with duplicate content (Hobo)

19.  Identify Thin Content Pages

Just like duplicate content, thin content can also negatively impact your site’s SEO.

What is thin contents?

Thin contents are typically those pages that add little or no value to both search engines and internet users.

How to find thin contents on your site?

Well, go through your website page/post one by one and try to find out:

  • Pages that have very little or no text content
  • Pages that have auto-generated content
  • Pages that were published months ago but receiving no rankings or traffic
  • Pages with a high bounce rate

SEMrush’s content analyzer feature is great for identifying these type of contents.

The content analyzer report gives you details about all your pages including the number of words, organic traffic, bounce rate, date published, keywords a page is ranking, etc.

You can use it to find which pages have little or no text and which pages are not getting any traffic from Google.

SEMrush content analyzer

Once you find these thin content pages, you can either improve them by adding unique and relevant contents or prevent those pages from being indexed by adding a noindex attribute.

20. Find and Fix Broken Links on Your Site

Broken or dead links are not just bad for SEO of your site, but they can also negatively affect user experience on your site.

For example, you would not want your site visitor to land on a 404 page, because that will create a bad first impression on them.

Which is why you should monitor your website for the broken links on a regular basis and fix them as and when they appear on your site.

If you are a WordPress user, you can use a very useful plugin for this task called Broken Link Checker.

Once the plugin is activated, it will scan your site every 72 hours for broken links. You will receive email notifications whenever the plugin will find any broken link on your site.

21. Spot and Fix Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization happens when multiple pages of your website target the same keyword/topic with same intent.

When more than one of your page is optimized to rank for one specific keyword, you end up competing with yourself.

As a result, each page/post end up with lower CTR, diminished authority, diluted backlinks, and lower conversion rates than you would achieve from having just one single page.

The simple way to make sure you do not cannibalize your own content is to create a spreadsheet that lists each of your post and page along with their corresponding target keyword.

Once you have prepared a spreadsheet, check whether any target keyword/topic is appearing twice in the keyword column; if so, consolidate the content where needed and find new keyword for contents that don’t suit consolidation.

In case, if you spot two or more content with similar content & keyword and plans to merge them in one, make sure to correctly implement 301 redirects from the old page to the new one to transfer authority of the old pages.

Top articles of the week:

1. On-page SEO checklist – A list of 25 SEO checklist that ensures your every blog post is ready to rank higher in Google.

2. WordPress SEO Checklist – Do you have a WordPress website, this checklists guide will ensure you have an SEO optimized WordPress site.

22. Check Your Canonical URLs

Every page/post of your website should have a canonical URL. This is defined by adding <link rel=“canonical” href=“https://example.com” /> in the <head> section of your web page.

What is canonical URL?

A canonical URL is a way of telling Google which version of a URL you want to appear in Google search result.

Using the “rel canonical” tag prevents serious SEO problem caused by duplicate or identical content appearing on multiple URLs.

Even if you don’t have duplicate content, It is recommend having a canonical link on every page/post and Google has confirmed that’s best.

The easiest way to check if your post/page has a canonical URL is to right-click anywhere on your page and select View Source. Search for (ctrl+f) rel=canonical and check the value.

Canonical URL

If you don’t find any canonical element present on your page, you can either use SEO plugin (WordPress user) to automatically add self-referencing canonical or hire a developer to make changes in your source code.

SEO plugin like Yoast SEO & Rank Math adds self-referencing canonical tags automatically on every WordPress page & post. To set custom canonicals, use the “Advanced” section.

Set canonical URL in Rank Math

23. Have a consistent URL structure

A consistent and logical URL structure helps your user understand where they are on your site.

Having said that, If you are a small website owner or a small blog owner then I don’t think you need to overthink about your URL structure.

But for a big website, Google itself recommends putting your pages under different categories to give Google extra context about each page in that category.

Navigation for google

For example, let’s say you offer multiple SEO related services on your blog. 

So, you must have different service pages like: 

  • https://www.yoursite.com/digital-marketing-service
  • https://www.yoursite.com/PPC-service
  • https://www.yoursite.com/content-writing- service
  • https://www.yoursite.com/social-media-marketing-service
  • https://www.yoursite.com/keyword-research-service

Now here a good URL structuring practice you can follow is categorizing all your service pages in a subfolder called “SERVICE”.

So, now all your service page URL structure will look something like this:

  • https://www.yoursite.com/service/digital-marketing
  • https://www.yoursite.com/service/PPC
  • https://www.yoursite.com/service/content-writing
  • https://www.yoursite.com/service/social-media-marketing
  • https://www.yoursite.com/service/keyword-research

Now, this will help Google know that all these pages are related to the services you are offering on your blog.

This is not just for a website offering services, you can follow the same practice with your blog posting topics too:

WPBeginner website is a good example of this:

If you analyze their website closely, you’ll notice they have categorised their different section of blog into different categories.

WPbeginner posts

WordPress makes it pretty easy to structure your URL.

Just go to the Permalink settings from your dashboard and select custom structure then and finally add /%category%/%postname%/ in the field next to the custom structure.

WordPress URL structure

Or you can also use Custom Post type UI plugin to create custom Post types and have more control on the URL structure of your post type.

custom post type UI

24. Use Structured Data to Highlight Your Content

In the last few years, Structured data has gained more and more importance.

So, what is structured data?

In simple language, Structured data is a code that you add in your web page to help search engines understand the context of your web page.

Additionally, structured data enhances your search result in SERP through the addition of rich snippets.

For example, let’s say you have a recipe blog, you can use structured data to show star rating and other information about your recipe in the search result.

Technical SEO Checklist For 2021

Because these elements make your search result visually appealing and highlight useful information to searchers, it increases the chances of searchers clicking on your result and landing on your site.

Similarly, these days the FAQ schema is in trend. You’ll notice that few search results appear with FAQ Google SERP.

FAQ schema

As you can clearly notice these FAQ elements not just provide additional information immediately to the searchers, but also make the result stand out in SERP.

So, how to add all kinds of schema on your site?

Well, I personally use a simple plugin called Schema PRO by Brainstorm force. 

Technical SEO Checklist For 2021

It is a very versatile schema plugin that allows you to add any kind of schema you want within just a few clicks.

CHAPTER #5

Website Architecthure checklist

Having a good website UX is not just good for Humans but also important from SEO point of view, especially with the evolution of machine learning technology. Here are some Technical SEO checklists that will help you ensure, you have a well-structured & optimized website UX.

25. Do you have proper TLN (Top level navigation)

The main menu and navigation of your website is called TLN. It have a massive impact on both search indexation and the overall users experience.

An ideal site user want a logical and easy to find menu that smoothly directs them where they want to go.

On the other hand, Google & Bing wants the same thing from a website owner. Your important pages and section should be linked from the TLN.

You can check out NerdWallet top level navigation to get an idea of how a well-structured TLN looks like.

Example of a good top level navigation
Example of a well-structured top level navigation

They have linked all of their finance tools and top post in every category to their top level navigation.

26. Add Breadcrumbs for a Better Navigation

Breadcrumbs navigation are helpful for two main reason:

First, it helps users to navigate through a website easily without having to press the back button.

Second, it helps search engines understand the hierarchy of a website content.

For WordPress users, SEO plugins like Yoast and Rank Math make it pretty easy to implement Breadcrumbs on their site.

Rank Math SEO Plugin

Go to Rank Math >> General Settings >> Breadcrumbs and Enable breadcrumbs function.

Breadcrumbs in RankMath plugin

Now use the following code in your theme template files to display breadcrumbs on your website:

<?php if (function_exists('rank_math_the_breadcrumbs')) rank_math_the_breadcrumbs(); ?>

Or paste this short code anywhere on your website, where you want to show breadcrumbs.

If you are a Yoast SEO user, follow this guide – How To Add Breadcrumbs with Yoast SEO?

27. Optimize your structure?

Site architecture refers to how all pages of a website are structured and linked together.

An optimized website architecture is important for three main reasons:

#Reason 1 : An optimized site structure allows search engines to understand the relationship between your each page and index them accordingly..

#Reason #2 : When you internal link to high-priority pages, the more PageRank will flow to those pages, which can help improve their rankings in Google.

#Reason 3 : The right site structure makes it easy for your users to find what they are looking for on your site.

So, how to optimize your site structure?

1. First thing first, group your related page together by using categories and internal linking.

For example, I cover multiple topics on my blog like SEO, Blogging, Web Hosting, Podcasting.

And I have made sure that all my blog posts that belong to SEO topics are internally linked and categorized together.

 Same goes with other topics like Blogging, Web hosting and so on.

Silo structure of a blog

2. Second, make sure that you have a flat site structure. A flat site structure means users or crawlers can reach any page of your site within 3 clicks or less from your homepage.

Here is an example of flat site structure of a simple recipe blog:

Flat site structure

28. Consider Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is Google’s recent project aimed to deliver content faster on mobile devices through the use of special codes known as AMP HTML.

The AMP version of your web page loads quickly (almost instantly) compared to non-AMP pages.

They do this by stripping all the unnecessary contents like widgets, comments, forms, sidebar, etc and leaving just the main content text, image and video intact on a web page.

However, before you make your mind to implement AMP on your site, you should must check out its pros and Cons:

PROS

  • Your website will load almost instantly on mobile devices
  • Most probably it will increase your CTR in the SERP

CONS

  • Not easy to implement
  • Not good for landing pages
  • Your analytics and site reports will get confusing
  • Less control of your content

If you have decided to opt for AMP , refer to this guide – How to enable AMP on your website.

Technical SEO Checklist & Summary

If you have made this so far, then most probably by now you have a good idea of what is technical SEO and how to get it right.

To summarize, here’s the 28 Point Technical Seo Checklist that will help whenever you want to perform a Technical SEO audit on your website:

  • Improve your server response time
  • Optimize your images for Web
  • Limit the number of resources and HTTP requests
  • Leverage Browser Caching on your website
  • Use a Secure Protocol – HTTPS
  • Specify your prefered domain version (WWW vs Non-WWW)
  • Test Mobile responsiveness of your website
  • Set up 301 redirects correctly after site migration
  • Create an XML sitemap for your website (make use of your SEO plugin)
  • Optimize your Robot.txt file
  • Check Your SEO logFile
  • Check your orphan pages (pages with no internal links)
  • Find and Fix Duplicate content issues on your website
  • Spot and fix keyword cannibalization issues
  • Find and Fix Broken Link issue son your website
  • Check your canonical URL (Your every page should have a canonical URL)
  • Implement Structured data on your website
  • Add breadcrumbs navigation to your website
  • Optimize your website architecture (silo structure)
  • Consider Enabling Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

That’s all for my guide to technical SEO.

Which is your favourite Technical SEO tweaks? Let me know in the comment section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi, I am Shivam Choudhary founder of Nerdblogging.com – A blog that helps online entrepreneurs start, grow, and scale their blog. Whether you are looking for the right advice to get your blog off the ground or proven strategies to accelerate your blog’s growth, I am here to help you get further. 

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