This article was written based on an SMX London 2016 presentation given by Hannah Thorpe, you can view the full slides here. Originally posted on white.net
In this presentation, we’ll talk through the advanced side of technical SEO.
What is (advanced) technical SEO?
It’s the process of increasing visibility of a website in organic search. For the visibility aspect of it, it could also be visits by improving click-through rate. This could be for any website, whatever the industry or service they provide. The search part of the equation means searches relevant to the audience while still ensuring the site has a good UX.
Advanced is subjective
The term ‘advanced’ is subjective, based on circumstances and complexities of the on-site experience. Technical SEO is the broad term that can apply to all websites; the advanced part comes in when we’re looking at the intricacies of improving the on-site and browsing experience. When it comes to advanced technical SEO, the power is in your hands… sort of.
Before we get started, here’s a tech SEO checklist of the ‘basics’
Make sure the fundamentals are in place and to a high standard. On-page elements like page titles, headings, internal linking, robots.txt, meta descriptions, crawling, pagination and backlinks. For any website, there will always be the tech aspects to consider first – the foundations of your site.
How is our technical SEO world changing?
A change is proposed or made on a website based on perceived UX improvement. A range of implications are seen, or expected, as a result of this change. The technical SEO team must resolve these problems and react to make it work for SEO. When the technical SEO issues come your way, be proactive. Here are the most common technical SEO problems in more complex situations.
Faceted navigation is a way users can refine search more so they don’t have to click through pages of results they are not interested in. This could mean wasted crawl budget on multiple similar pages, over indexation with lots of content or risk of duplicate content diluting ranking ability. Not only are all these issues poor for organic visibility, but they’re also not good for the user experience.
Determine what is valuable and canonise
We may say, ‘something broke – quick, just undo the changes and go back to what we’ve always had’. But what about the users? The solution is to determine what is valuable and what is a not a facet and to canonise to the closest alternative of value.
When to index?
Aggregating all the similar products will help Google understand the most important pages/categories on your site. So, when to index? Make sure you understand whether or not the category is a natural extension to your current categories? Is there a high demand around this grouping? Does this page add new product choices, or just reorder the page?
Serve snapshots to Googlebot and use prerendering tools
There are two core solutions to this crawling issue, and one you shouldn’t apply. Firstly, serve selected snapshots specifically to Googlebot when it visits your site. Secondly, use a pre-rendering service to ensure that the correct content is served. However, waiting to see what happens is a gamble that’s not worth taking. Tools like Prerender.io ensures the correct content is indexed when using JS.
Focusing on the users is becoming more important in the search. It’s very likely that CTR does influence rankings, despite it never being considered a key ranking factor before. So what is the solution for improving you CTRs? The answer is structured data.
Structured data is seen as the most efficient and user-centric way to improve click-through rates. There are two ways to implement this, either using Microdata RDA or JSON-LD. Both using JSON-LD and editing it is quicker and simpler than Microdata RDA. The rich snippet generated from this data implementation gives the user a large amount of information in one place and in turn, gives them more reason to make that click.
The world of technical SEO is not finished evolving
Like all aspects of digital, everything is evolving so quick. The rise of accelerated mobile pages (AMP) is an example of how times are changing. The emphasis on improving page speed, seen by the adoption of AMP, is something that’s imperative for mobile-compatible sites and has only really take action in the last two years.