Google makes delivering search results in a fraction of a second look easy, but the technology behind this quick response is complex. Google doesn't search the web live; instead, it uses a process called crawling, performed by its Googlebot, to discover and index new web pages into a vast database.

Once a page is indexed, Google's algorithm sorts through millions of pages to present the most relevant ones based on your query. This demonstrates the importance of having your site properly crawled and indexed.

To ensure your content appears and ranks in search results, it's critical to implement fundamental technical SEO practices.

Below, we'll go over the most important ones to prioritize in your SEO strategy.

Table of Contents:


What Is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is a critical aspect of search engine optimization that focuses on optimizing the infrastructure of a website to facilitate better crawling and indexing by search engines.

It involves ensuring that a website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines with the goal of improved organic rankings.

Key elements include making sure the site can be easily and thoroughly navigated by search engine bots, ensuring that the site architecture supports SEO goals, and addressing any issues that might prevent a search engine from interpreting site content effectively.


Why Is Technical SEO Important?

Technical obstacles are some of the biggest challenges that brands face with their SEO efforts, and they are also arguably the most important.

Technical SEO is essential because it ensures search engines can effectively crawl and index your website, which is crucial for visibility in search results.

Essentially, technical SEO lays the groundwork for a website to achieve its full potential in search rankings. If your site does not have good usability, all your other SEO efforts and content updates are worthless.


Technical SEO Basics to Prioritize

When it comes to prioritizing which technical SEO issues to tackle first, it's a good idea to start with the basics.

We've organized this list of technical SEO basics into two main sections:

  • Best practices to ensure your site is crawlable
  • Best practices to improve your site's user expereince


Best Practices to Ensure Your Site is Crawlable

These best practices will ensure that you don't block Google from accessing your site and make it easier for Google to find and index your content.

1. Create a Sitemap

First, it’s important to have a sitemap that includes all important URLs, allowing Googlebot to see the pages you deem most important.

Note: Having an XML sitemap that reflects valid site URLs doesn't guarantee Google will crawl your site, but it ensures Google will at least know the pages are there.

Sitemaps are particularly beneficial for large websites, where maintaining effective internal linking strategies can be challenging. This ensures that Google can discover all relevant pages, even those that might not be easily reachable through regular crawling.

Another way to ensure Google navigates your site properly is by having a sound interlinking structure. Prioritize linking more frequently to your most important pages to establish a clear page hierarchy and use relevant anchor text to give context to where the link leads.


2. Secure External Links

While outside of your direct control, showing Google that other people think you have quality content helps crawlability.

When external links, also known as backlinks, point to your website, Google picks up on the importance and relevance of your site.

Link building also demonstrates your content's authority, which will help improve search visibility – but creating and optimizing content is for after you've prioritized your technical SEO!


3. Avoid Robots.txt Issues

The Robots.txt file tells a bot what pages to crawl versus not to crawl.

If you want your pages to ever get indexed, you need to grant Google access to ythem. As such, you need to make sure that the Robots.txt file isn’t blocking content that’s intended for the index.

Recommended Reading: Common Robots.txt Issues (and How to Avoid Them)


4. HTTPS and Redirect Management

We also recommend you serve pages on HTTPS and implement a site-wide rewrite to HTTPS URLs.

This ensures any visitor – including Googlebot – that reaches an HTTP URL will get automatically redirected to the HTTPS version of the site with a server-side redirect.

In addition, pay attention to (and address) broken links, multiple redirects, and slow server response, which all negatively impact your crawlability.

Crawlers have budgets, and would rather spend time on sites that are fast, speedy, and error-free. When sites have these errors, Google realizes that it’s going to be a troublesome site to work with, and it’s simply not worth their time.


Technical SEO Best Practices to Improve User Expreince

After you’ve prioritized the above technical SEO best practices to ensure your pages get crawled and indexed, it’s important to focus on other areas of technical SEO.

The on-page technical SEO basics below will help improve your site's user experience.


5. Include SEO-Optimized Metadata

You want your pages to have a title tag, H1 tag, and an optimized meta description. These metadata work to provide Google and the end user with more context about the contents of your site.

In Google’s “How Search Works” post, they explain that if keywords appear in a page’s body text or title, that page is more likely to be relevant to the searcher’s query.


6. Implement Structured Data

As we’ve seen, Google works hard to understand the contents of a page.

Include structured data to provide explicit indications about the meaning of a page and help Google in the process. Essentially, using schema helps you make Google’s life easier.

For a comprehensive look at structured data and schema, review our schema webinar (with transcription) here: Technical SEO Best Practices: Schema [WEBINAR].


7. Ensure Return Status Codes Match Your Pages

It's crucial for your website to return the appropriate status codes to ensure that Google accurately indexes your content.

Error pages, for instance, should correctly return 404 status codes when a page cannot be found. This informs Google that the page does not exist, preventing it from being indexed and keeping your site's index clean and relevant.

Additionally, you'll want to monitor and correct any pages that incorrectly return 200 status codes for non-existent content, as this can confuse search engines and lead to poor user experience.


8. Improve Page Speed

Since bots and users alike get frustrated when a page loads slowly, it's also important to consider page load time when optimizing your site for technical SEO.

Slow pages cause bots to have a bad crawl experience and result in higher bounce rates due to a negative user experience.

To get your site to load faster, ensure the following criteria is met:

  • Compression is enabled where appropriate
  • Caching is enabled where possible
  • Code is minified where it can be
  • No excessive requests for external sources

Recommended Reading: Your Guide to Optimize On-Page SEO


How to Find (and Fix) Technical SEO Issues With Your Site

Google has to prioritize which web pages it crawls and not all websites meet its standards – some have low-quality, spam, or stub pages that Google does not want to crawl or index.

Recommended Reading: SEO Crawlability Issues and How to Find Them

While it's important to at least ensure that your site gets crawled and indexed, the ideal goal is to optimize for ranking factors that increase search visibility so your site ranks on the SERP.

To find issues with your site and address areas to improve upon, which makes Google’s life easier, consider executing an SEO audit.

A site audit will reveal any technical issues keeping Google from crawling and indexing your site, and alert you to technical optimizations or content that requires further improvement.

Recommended Reading: 3 Common Search Engine Indexing Problems

You’ll end up with a to-do list of SEO factors to improve. When it comes to prioritizing those SEO issues, we suggest starting with the basics we covered above.


Closing Thoughts

Following these technical SEO steps in priority order will allow you to – most likely – have your pages crawled and added to Google’s index so they start to show up in search results.

But as we’ve seen, technical SEO optimization is not just important for crawlability and indexability, it also is connected to the user experience.

Not only do you want people to find your site, you also want them to have a good experience so they stay on the page and convert.

After you've completed the above steps, you can turn your attention to keyword research, SEO content writing, and other content-centric elements that will further enhance your web page.

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