There are two big parts to search engine optimization (SEO): content SEO and technical SEO. Content creators spend the bulk of their time—if not all of their time—thinking about content. That is what a writer sees. That is what the user sees. They say content is the most important factor and the content is always right in front of us. Web managers also need to consider how technical metrics can affect SEO.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to measurable metrics which affect search engine optimization and search engine rankings that web developers, programmers, and infrastructure managers can influence. One important example is page speed. The faster a page loads, the better the experience is for the user. Search engines, such as Google, factor in your page load times when determining how to rank your webpages because search engines know that faster loading webpages provide a better experience to visitors.
There are many technical factors that can affect page speed, user experience, and website authority—all of which factor into search engine rankings. Several of these key technical factors include:
- caching / minify / text compression
- critical CSS
- first paint experience / time to interactive
- HTTPS security
- HTTP request total
- image compression
- image lazy load / mirage
- image sizing (proper)
- JS execution speed
- media types (use modern ones: WebP, WebM, etc)
- page redirects
- render-blocking images
- request preconnect
- robots.txt configuration
- third-party code/services
Your website’s frontend and backend developers and programmers—along with the people in charge of managing your servers and infrastructure—can make significant improvements to your page speed loading times and overall user experience by researching, prioritizing, and implementing improvements related to these topics. All of these factors will improve your technical search engine optimization.
Why is Technical SEO Important?
The spotlight has been shining brighter on the technical side of search engine optimization ever since Google came out with Core Web Vitals (CWV). Core web vitals measure the technical health of the user experience of any given webpage. These core web vitals are measurable and trackable and they push web developers to create a better user experience. Google factors in core web vitals and other measures of webpage performance when converting a site index into search engine rankings.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core web vitals are broken down into three categories:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP focuses on your webpage’s loading performance. You want the user to see meaningful web content as fast as possible—within 2.5 seconds. The slower your initial content loads, the more likely your webpage visitor will become impatient and leave your website. This is especially important on mobile devices that may not be connected to fast WiFi internet service.
- First Input Delay (FID): FID focuses on webpage interactivity. How long does the user have to wait to actually use your website? You need to keep the first input delay under 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS focuses on the visual stability of your webpages. We all hate when we are looking at a webpage and we go to click on something—only to have the webpage content shift and move on us. Shifts occur when some additional element, such as an ad, image, or alert bar, appears after content above or below it has already appeared. Content shifts are frustrating, so keep your CLS to 0.1 or less.
How Else Can I Improve SEO?
In addition to focusing on technical search engine optimization, your content creators should also work on content search engine optimization. Writers, bloggers, copyeditors, and others who create and input content into your website can learn key SEO skills:
- Writing for the Web: you may already be a skilled writer, but do you know how to optimize your writing skills for websites?
- Five Ways to Improve your Site’s Ranking (SEO): follow these suggestions to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and watch your website rise the ranks to the top of search-engine results.
- What is SEO? (Search Engine Optimization): excited to learn more about search engine optimization? Take a deeper dive into what SEO and optimization means.
- SEO Marketing: create an SEO marketing strategy and see your impressions, rankings, and clicks grow!
- Characters to Avoid in Filenames and Directories: did you know that the name of files and folders affects SEO? Use best practices when naming your files and folders.