Prevent any technical problems with this checklist. This list contains everything you need to know about technical SEO. Click here for more information. Your goal with technical SEO is to help search engines find, access, crawl, interpret, and index your website without any problems.
It is called “technical” because it has nothing to do with the actual content of the website or with website promotion (more on this later).
Here is your technical SEO checklist:
Make your URLs SEO Friendly
A permalink is the URL of a webpage. It is called a permalink because it is not expected to change throughout the lifetime of the page.
For SEO purposes, you need to check and make sure that ALL your website pages have SEO-friendly URLs.
SEO-friendly URLs have the following characteristics:
- They are short and descriptive
- They include keywords
- They use hyphens (-) to separate the words
Install SSL and make your website HTTPS
Having an SSL installed on your website is one of the known ranking factors.
An SSL ensures that any information shared between your website and server is secured.
If you haven’t migrated your website to HTTPS yet, then this is a top priority item on your to-do list.
Adding an SSL to your website is not enough for SEO purposes, you need to make sure that you do it correctly to avoid losing your current rankings.
Check the ‘Coverage Report’ in the Google Search Console for errors
If there are any problems during the crawling and indexing phase then this is very bad for your SEO.
It can cause huge issues with your rankings so one of the checks you need to make on a regular basis is to visit the Coverage report in the Google search console and check for errors.
Check and optimize your robots.txt file
Robots.txt is a file that resides in the root folder of your site and gives instructions to search engines as to which pages of your site they can crawl and index.
A misconfiguration in the robots.txt file can cause big errors or even de-indexing of your website from search engine results.
Check WordPress visibility settings
If you are using WordPress as your CMS then besides checking the robots.txt file, you also need to check the visibility setting in WordPress and make sure that you are not accidentally blocking search engines from accessing your content.
The setting is found under SETTINGS / READING
Another check to make is to ensure that any links within your comments section have the nofollow attribute attached.
Comments are good for SEO and should be enabled on your blog but to avoid getting a Google penalty for ‘unnatural links’, all outgoing links need to be nofollow.
A nofollow link instructs search engines not to pass any PageRank (or link juice) to the target website.
The easiest way to check is to use the INSPECT option of Google developers’ tools.
If you want to be a true SEO expert, while auditing your website, you should not forget about optimizing your site structure.
This is a mistake I see all the time when performing an SEO Audit.
A good site structure is no more than 3 levels deep and it allows for any website link to be accessed from the homepage in 3 clicks or less.
The website menu should accurately reflect the website structure.
If this is not the case with your website, then revising your site structure can help you improve your SEO.
Optimize your XML sitemap and submit it to Search engines
An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the pages of your site that search engines need to know about.
You need to check that your XML sitemap is properly optimized and valid and then
submit your sitemap to Google and Bing.
Check for sitemap errors in Google Search Console
Submitting your sitemap to Google is not the end of the story. You need to regularly check the Google search console for sitemap errors.
Add structured data markup data to your homepage
Schemas and structured data are nowadays very important for SEO.
They can dramatically help you enhance your website’s appearance in Google search results, they are good for local SEO and for Voice SEO.
Many people forget to add the necessary structured data to their homepage and this is a big mistake.
Your homepage is one of the most important pages of your site for many reasons and when it comes to SEO, it should be treated like the rest of the pages.
When it comes to structured data for the homepage, you need to ensure that you define the following schemas:
- Organization (if you are an online business)
- Local Business (if you have a physical presence i.e. a shop)
- Person (if you are running a personal blog).
Test your structured data markup implementation
Schema definitions sometimes change so it’s a good practice to check your schema implementation regularly using the rich results testing tool.
You can use the tool to check the structured data you added to the homepage and the rest of your pages.
Keeping your schema info up-to-date and valid is very important.
A breadcrumb menu is a small menu usually located at the top of a page, used as a navigational aid. It shows the path to go from the current page back to the homepage.
Breadcrumb menus are good for the user experience and thus they are also good for SEO.
Google loves breadcrumbs and they recommend using them on your site.
One of the advantages of using breadcrumb menus is that they enhance the presentation of your search snippets in mobile search results.
Google is sometimes using the breadcrumb name instead of the URL in the search snippet so you need to make sure that the relevant structured data is added for your breadcrumbs.
If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin for breadcrumbs, it automatically adds the correct schema and structured data code.
Check that all your pages define a canonical URL
Canonicalization is an advanced SEO concept but something that is extremely important to get right.
Canonical URLs can help you solve duplicate content issues, and protect your content when other websites use your content (with or without your concern) and it’s the only way to specify your preferred domain to Google.
To learn more about canonical URLs and how to use them correctly, read these guides:
Implement hreflang if your website is available in more than one language
If your website’s content is available in more than one language, you need to use hreflang tags to tell Google about the localized versions of your page.
Failing to do so can create issues for your indexing because Google might get confused if the same page is available in more than one language.
They usually get it right but with the use of hreflang you minimize the possibility of any issues.
Check this guide for more information on how to SEO your Multilanguage website.
Check and optimize your 404 Page
The 404 Page is shown when a page is not found on your site. This can be because users mistyped a URL, a page was deleted from your site and is no longer available.
For the best user experience, you need to ensure that your 404 page is meaningful and gives alternative options to users to find what they are looking for.
This is what my 404 page looks like:
Check and improve the loading speed of your website
As part of a technical SEO review, you need to check and improve your website loading speed as much as possible.
Loading speed is a known Google ranking factor and a very important user experience factor.
Slow websites lose money and customers for every second delay.
Use Lazy Loading for images and videos
One practical way to improve the loading speed of your site, especially on mobile is to use Lazy loading for images and videos.
Lazy loading is a mechanism that loads images or videos only when they are in the user’s viewport.
Optimize your website’s logo and favicon
One last thing to review before proceeding to the rest of the items in this SEO checklist is to optimize your website’s logo and favicon
Make sure that your logo is an image and not text – Google may decide to show your logo in the search results and in order to do so it has to be an image.
Give your logo the correct name – Do not just use the word logo but use your website name + logo. For example, seocity-logo.png
Add ALT text with your logo – Keep the alt text simple i.e. “seocity logo”
When it comes to the use of a favicon, make sure that you specify a custom favicon for your site that is square in size.
Google is testing showing the favicons in the search results so you need to make sure that your website is represented properly.