Skip to main content

How to Improve Your Technical SEO

Helping your customers find you online is about more than just great content. Learn how to optimize the technical aspects of your site for search engines.

When it comes to seeking any kind of information, most of us turn to the internet. Whether we’re looking for the news, searching for a recipe, or trying to find the best hotel in town, the answer can be found on the internet. But more specifically, we turn to search engines. In just a few seconds, these software systems can scour the World Wide Web and give us results that best fit our search query.

For businesses, search engines provide the opportunity to drive organic traffic to their websites. When they’re able to optimize their Google search results, for example, businesses are able to connect with their target audience, boost sales, and promote growth. But in order to reap all the benefits of optimizing your website’s visibility in a search engine, there are a lot of technical considerations to think about first—one of which is technical SEO. 

Different types of search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of orienting your website so that it can rank higher on a search engine results page. The most commonly known search engine is Google, which accounts for about 83% of all online search engine usage, but there are others including Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, and Baidu.

When most companies try to boost their SEO, they primarily think about how they can add key terms to their website content. However, SEO is a bit more complicated than that. Under the umbrella of search engine optimization, there is on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO, the latter being the one we’ll discuss the most in depth in this article.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to optimizing any of the elements that are on the website itself. This is the type of SEO that includes doing keyword research and using those key terms in titles, meta descriptions, and alt text.

On-page SEO focuses on how well your website appeals to users and search engine algorithms. It prioritizes the content that’s written and marked up on your page—meaning higher quality content will improve your website’s search engine ranking.

Off-page SEO

Just as on-page SEO prioritizes content that’s on the page, off-page SEO focuses on how to improve your website’s rankability outside the page. This includes noting how many backlinks—links from other websites that lead to your own—there are.

Ultimately, the point of off-page SEO is to establish your website as an authority on its subject by ensuring that your website’s links are placed elsewhere online. The more links to your website that other websites have, the higher your site will rank on a search engine.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to how your website is structured and it allows you to move forward with an on- or off-page SEO strategy. It’s more closely related to on-page SEO since it focuses on optimizing your website structure, rather than external links.

When search engine bots enter your website, they need to be able to navigate, store, and deliver your website’s content for end users. With technical SEO, you’re able to lay out your website in a way that’s easier for those search engine bots to do their jobs. And this all happens even before those bots look at the keywords in your headlines and meta descriptions.

There are a variety of factors to consider with technical SEO—such as site structure, canonical tags, duplicate content, technical SEO tools, and mobile-friendly design—all of which we will cover below.

Why is technical SEO important?

The point of technical SEO is to make your website as accessible as possible to search engine bots. If your website isn’t accessible from a bot’s perspective, then it won’t matter how good your on-page SEO is or how many backlinks you have. You could have the most search-engine-optimized content ever, but if you have, for example, a broken link, a slow web page, or a disorganized XML sitemap, then it won’t meet the search engine’s requirements to be ranked well at all.

That’s why technical SEO is so important. It is the foundation on which you should lay out your website’s structure so that your content can even be considered to rank highly on a search engine results page.

How to optimize your technical SEO strategy

The key to a high search results ranking—from a technical SEO standpoint—is to make your website easily accessible to search engines. More specifically, that means search engines have to be able to crawl, index, and render your page properly.

If search engine bots aren’t able to do these things, then your web page won’t be discovered organically on a search engine results page. Let’s take a brief look at some technical SEO fundamentals before we take a deep dive into each one.

Crawling: How search engines see your web page

Crawling is a process where search engine bots scan (or “see”) the content on your website. A common analogy for website crawling is a spider because spiders usually only crawl on surfaces that connect to each other.

The same idea applies to search engine bots and how they crawl onto your website. Instead of physically connective surfaces like plants or walls, these “search engine spiders” use internal links to crawl from page to page. Each internal link provides a connection to a new page, and it’s the only way for bots to discover each page on your website.

Indexing: How search engines analyze your web page

Indexing is the process of cataloging your web pages and making sure that they appear on a search engine results page. When a search engine bot crawls onto your website, it analyzes each page and stores it in the search engine’s index, which is a massive, organized database. If search engine bots aren’t able to index your page, it won’t rank anywhere on a search engine.

Rendering: How search engines display your web page

Rendering is when a search engine is able to properly assemble your web page’s code and display it. When your web page is rendered, that means a search engine is able to collect each bit of code from your website and present it to your end user. If your page isn’t able to render properly, then users won’t be able to see it well, if at all.

Crawling: Why site structure improves search engine visibility

In order for search engines to know that your website has multiple pages, you have to make sure that your site is crawlable. Each time a search engine bot crawls onto your website, it will see internal links that connect each page to the next.

That means you need to make sure that your entire site structure is interconnected and organized in a logical way that makes sense to a search engine bot. When it’s easy for the bots to crawl from one web page to another, eventually, it’ll be easier for them to index and render each page.

Optimize your site architecture with internal links

Whether you’re creating a new website or you’re trying to improve the technical SEO health of an existing website, the first step is to consider your site architecture. In simpler terms, this means considering how your website is laid out and organized.

Think of any website you’ve visited recently. The most common spot you likely landed on was the Home page, right? From there, you probably saw a variety of other important category pages that you could click on. This is a very common way to set up your website’s architecture—and that’s because it’s crawlable.

To optimize your site architecture, you need to group similar pages with each other and map out what goes where. This makes your website flat, meaning that each category is only a few internal links away from each other. Typically, you should start with a homepage and then introduce a few categories. Next, under each category, you can introduce a subcategory, which is followed by individual content pages.

Here are some examples of crawlable and non-crawlable site architecture pathways:

  • Crawlable: Home > Furniture > Tables > Coffee Tables > Table Accessories
  • Non-crawlable: Home > Coffee Tables > Tables > Furniture > Table Accessories

Notice how the non-crawlable example doesn’t make much sense from an organizational standpoint. That’s because if a website isn’t crawlable, you—and any search engine bot— would know right away. When more important category pages (like the Furniture page) are really far from your Home page, it’ll be harder for bots to crawl on them.

Set up an organized URL structure

Once you’ve set up an organized site structure, you’ll need to set up specific URLs for every web page. If you didn’t know already, a website URL stands for uniform resource locator and refers to your business’s web address that’s displayed in a browser.

In order for search engine bots to crawl onto your website, you’ll need to have a different URL for each page. That includes every category, subcategory, and individual content page. However, since the goal is to make everything easily crawlable for a search engine bot, your website’s URL structure needs to be organized too.

Every subcategory page’s URL should be a simple extension of each category page’s URL. That includes making sure your URLs are short, in lowercase letters, and use dashes to separate multiple words.

Here are some examples of URLs you can use for each of your categories and subcategories:


Always make sure that every page’s URL connects to another page. Otherwise, you might end up with one or more orphan pages.

Orphan pages are web pages on your site that are only accessible by a URL but also don’t have anything linked to them. For example, if your pages on Coffee Tables aren’t accessible from your Furniture or Tables pages, then they would become orphan pages and a search engine bot wouldn’t be able to access them.  

Develop XML sitemaps for search engine ease

Setting up each URL can help you create an XML sitemap, which is like a map of your website that bots “read” in order to crawl on your website. While XML sitemaps look more like long, code-filled lists than visual maps, they’re used to make it clear to search engines which of your web pages are most important.

However, Google claims that some websites may not need XML sitemaps. If you have a small- or medium-sized business website with lots of internal links, less than 500 pages, or not many media files, then you may not need to develop an XML sitemap for your search engine bots.

Use breadcrumb navigation

Breadcrumb navigation is a directional aid that helps users and search engine bots understand their location on a website.

For users, breadcrumb navigation is typically used in the hierarchical sense. Users can see a visual menu that shows where they are on a site and how each category link got them there. The crawlable site architecture example can also be used as a breadcrumb navigation aid:

  • Crawlable breadcrumb navigation: Home > Furniture > Tables > Coffee Tables > Table Accessories

Alternatively, bots navigate breadcrumbs via structured data, which is defined as any data that’s in a standardized format. Structured data uses schema markup (a code language) to describe the content that’s on your page and provide correct directional context between each page. This makes it easy for bots to see your content and crawl back and forth on your website.

Indexing: How to appear in search results

Making sure your site’s content is crawlable is only one part of technical SEO. Next, you’ll have to make sure that search engines can index your site so that it will appear in search results.

Before search engines index your website, your goal should be to ensure that those search engine bots see your most important pages. However, if you have duplicate content or you allow the bots to index unimportant pages, the lower your search results ranking will be.

Reduce duplicate content with a canonical tag

Duplicate content is when you have multiple versions of the same page. If your website has them, search engine bots will have a harder time indexing your website. Remember, the key to optimizing your technical SEO is all about making it easy for search engines. So, the more duplicate content you have, the more difficult it will be for bots to index your entire website.

Below are some examples of duplicate content, and notice how both URLs are slightly different from each other:

  • VS.
  • VS.

There are a few reasons why duplicate content doesn’t rank well. First, URLs that are different or stand out against the others won’t look like they belong to your website—that is, users could perceive them as fake. Second, having different URLs can dilute the amount of backlinks your website has, making it harder for other sites to provide the correct links to your site. Lastly, while search engines like Google don’t necessarily give out penalties for having duplicate content, there are some repercussions to having too-similar content on your site. (Of course, be sure to check what the rules are for other search engines.)

In order to avoid using duplicate content, you can use canonical tags, which are HTML codes that identify your main, preferred web pages. A canonical tag will identify your URL as the original one, allowing search engine bots to index that page and rank it in search results. The canonical tag may not be visible to a user, but a bot that’s crawling on your site will use it to identify each URL as the original one.

Leverage noindex tags for unimportant web pages

While you may love every page on your carefully crafted website, not every web page should be created—or tagged—as equal. If you can help it, try to keep the amount of indexed pages to a minimum because this will make it easier for the search engine bots to crawl and index your website.

Here is when you can leverage the noindex tag, which is a specific HTML snippet that keeps certain pages out of a search engine’s index. This allows you to highlight important pages for indexing by ensuring that the unimportant ones purposefully get skipped over.

The following are examples of unimportant pages to which you can attach a noindex tag:

  • Order confirmation pages
  • Submission completion pages
  • Search results pages
  • Login pages
  • Privacy policy or terms of service pages

Rendering: Technical considerations when displaying your website

The last consideration in your technical SEO strategy is to ensure that your website renders properly. Efficient rendering is all about how well your website loads when it appears in a browser. If your site loads quickly and displays the right content, then a search engine will rank it higher. But if it’s slow or isn’t displaying the content correctly, then your site will rank lower.

The following are certain aspects that can affect how your website renders, as well as the tools you can use to check your website’s renderability.

Reduce page depth

We mentioned earlier that when important category pages are linked really far from your Home page, it can be harder for search engine bots to find them. The reason for this is because page depth can affect how your website is rendered.

If your site structure is set up so that it takes multiple clicks just to get to an important page, it will take bots more time to crawl to those pages, index them, and render them. Sometimes, if those important pages are really deep in your website (i.e., it takes 8-10 clicks to get there), a bot may not even find it.

Ultimately, page depth can slow down your site speed, creating a poor experience for your end users and resulting in a lower ranking on a search results page.

Consider server performance

Another aspect of your website’s renderability is your web server’s performance. If your web server constantly times out or it always takes too long to load a page, search engines will remove your page from their search results index, claiming that you have a broken page. Even a sudden drop in your server’s performance can result in a slower site speed. So, make sure that you’re able to identify, troubleshoot, and clear up any issues as they arise.

Fix broken links

It’s essential that you make sure each link on your website actually works. It may seem obvious to fix broken internal links, but one broken link can cause your website to have multiple orphan pages. This can greatly reduce your chances of ranking high on search results because your site won’t have been rendered entirely. Be sure to scan through your whole site and fix any broken links that you see—or you can use an SEO audit tool to do this for you.

Tools for conducting a technical SEO audit

A technical SEO audit tool can help you find and fix any errors in your site’s structure. Most websites use Google as their host, which means website users can use the auditing tools on Google Search Console. However, there are other auditing resources out there, including ones that can audit your site if it’s hosted on other search engines.

Google Search Console

A part of Google Analytics, Google Search Console offers website owners a free suite of tools to help them improve their Google Search ranking. Most of these owners rely on the analytics from Google Search Console to help them improve their marketing efforts, such as website traffic, performance, and backlink usage. But, there are a variety of other technical SEO tools that you can use.

With Google Search Console, website owners can:

  • View analytics that affect rankings in Google’s index
  • Audit the crawlability of their XML sitemap
  • Check for blocked noindex pages
  • Check for broken links
  • Get alerts if Google detects technical issues

Screaming Frog

This auditing site allows website owners to upload their log files, identify crawled URLs, and analyze bot data. Based in the United Kingdom, Screaming Frog offers an extensive free version of their auditing tools as well as a paid version. Screaming Frog users tend to like the tool’s ability to perform audits specifically for technical SEO, deliver customized extraction reports, and provide strong customer support.

Bing Webmaster Tools

If your website lives in a Bing search engine, you can get access to Bing Webmaster Tools—which is like a Google equivalent for Microsoft Bing website owners. Bing Webmaster users can analyze a variety of their website’s SEO features, such as backlink usage, keyword research, site crawler auditing, and sitemap inspections.

Tips on improving search results visibility

Remember, technical SEO is all about making it as easy as possible for search engines to crawl, index, and render your site. The following are some extra tips that can help you make your website more easily accessible to search engines.

Expand to voice search optimization

A new SEO trend that website owners should think about is voice search optimization, which is the process of improving your website visibility with voice search queries. In fact, 62% of American adults use a voice assistant on devices like a smartphone, smart speaker, or computer.

The way it works is unlike traditional text-based search because we interact differently with voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana. For example, instead of typing into a search engine, women’s clothing stores near me, a user would instead ask, “Hey Siri, what are some women’s clothing stores in my area?”

With the rise of voice search, search engines have started to prioritize websites that are also optimized for voice search queries. This boost in accessibility not only makes it easier for search engines to rank your website, but it can also improve your brand awareness, drive organic traffic, and reach new users.


A secure sockets layer (SSL) acts as a layer of protection between your web host’s server and a browser. With an SSL certificate, you can guarantee your website’s authenticity and also encrypt data that’s shared between a user and your web host’s server. This includes sensitive data such as personal and payment information.

On websites that have an SSL certificate, the URL will start with “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP.” The extra “S” indicates that a user’s experience with that website will be secure.

The reason why this can impact your technical SEO is because search engines prioritize websites that are more secure. In addition, Google will rank websites with HTTPS higher than those without. If you have an existing website with HTTP, you may need to redirect or adjust your current web pages to ones with HTTPS, which will take time. But the extra effort you put into making your website secure will not only help your search engine rankings but also enhance your users’ privacy.

Improve site speed

Remember, slower pages are less likely to rank highly in search results. To improve your site speed, you should reduce your page depth, consider your server’s performance, and fix any broken links.

Here are some more tips on how to improve your website’s page speed:

  • Compress all image files: Images can be some of the largest files on your website. If you reduce their resolution and dimensions, they won’t take as long to load and you can quicken your page speed.
  • Limit redirect chains: Having multiple pages that automatically redirect users to other pages can slow down your website. If you audit redirect chains regularly, you should be able to find unnecessary redirects and cut them out.
  • Remove unnecessary JavaScript files: If you have a website with a lot of JavaScript, you’re more likely to have a slower page. So, try to remove any unnecessary JavaScript files that you find are increasing your page load time.

Include mobile-friendly design

Out of all global internet users, about half of them use their mobile phones to access the internet. With this many mobile users, search engines tend to prioritize and favor websites that have mobile accessibility. Furthermore, a mobile-friendly website can also help you improve accessibility, reach a wider audience, and increase your leads.

Improve your website's search results with technical SEO

When it comes to improving your website’s visibility in a search engine, it may not be enough to just use key terms in your headlines and promote backlinks to your site. Technical SEO can be tricky because it all takes place behind the scenes. But with the right tips, tools, and knowledge, you should start to see your website rank higher on any search results page. If this happens to you, well done!

Share This Article