Essential tips and tricks for technical SEO in 2024

Veröffentlicht: 3. May 2024

Welcome to the world of technical SEO! This area of search engine optimization plays a decisive role when it comes to making your website visible and findable for search engines.

In fact, some technical search engine optimization issues can completely ruin your other SEO efforts. You should therefore not take the issue lightly.

In this article you will learn all about the basics of technical SEO, how to check your site for errors and you will also get to know a few more advanced optimization options.

On top of that, you will also receive our Technical SEO Checklist (make a copy of the document to edit).

Great, right? Then let’s get started right away.

Meaning and basics

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing the infrastructure of your website. This is not about content or external links, but about the technical structure of the site. So we are here in the OnPage SEO sub-area.

The main goals are an optimized architecture, fast loading times, secure connections and effective usability on all devices.

Why is this important? Quite simply, search engines like Google place great importance on offering users the best experience.

A technically well-positioned site is therefore ranked higher in the search results.

How to carry out a technical SEO audit

SEO tools such as Screaming Frog, SEMrush and Ahrefs offer extensive functions to identify and fix technical problems. So before we dive into best practices and troubleshooting, you should first get an overview of the current state of your site.

Technical SEO audit with the Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is a desktop program that crawls your website and collects data similar to a search engine crawler. The software is probably the undisputed #1 when it comes to carrying out a technical SEO audit.

You can go into great detail and customize the crawl to suit your needs. On the other hand, the SEO tool also has a certain learning curve and is not entirely beginner-friendly.

However, you can use the tool free of charge for up to 500 URLs. You install it, enter your domain in the search field at the top and start the crawl.

Technical SEO audit with the Screaming Frog
You can then click on “Problems” to directly find an overview of the most common errors

By default, the tool also sorts by “Error”, “Warning” and “Note”. You will also receive an indication of priority. This can help you as a beginner to prioritize your tasks.

Click on one of the problems to get more information about it in the bottom right-hand window:

further information on technical seo problems with the seo software sreaming frog

As soon as you have selected a technical SEO problem, you will see all the URLs affected by it in the left-hand column:

filter affected urls with screming frog seo spider

This will allow you to quickly rectify the errors. The SEO tool offers you countless other functions, but that would be the subject of a separate article. Let’s take a look at common mistakes and technical SEO best practices.

Crawlability: Access for search engines, sitemap and robots.txt

Crawlability is one of the most fundamental and important aspects of technical SEO. It ensures that search engines can efficiently crawl and understand your website. Here are the three main components you should consider:

Access for search engines

Make sure that search engines can easily reach and search your website. Do not block important pages due to server settings or incorrect settings in the robots.txt file. Also check whether your website is continuously available and does not have long downtimes.

You can also test access for search engines with tools such as Google Search Console to make sure there are no crawling errors.

Sitemap

A sitemap is a file in which the URLs of all pages of your website are listed. It helps search engines to understand the structure of your website and crawl all pages more efficiently. It is especially helpful to have a sitemap if your website is new or contains many pages.

You can easily create an XML sitemap with most CMS systems such as WordPress or with sitemap generators online. Don’t forget to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to speed up processing.

How important is an XML sitemap for SEO?

An XML sitemap is very important for SEO as it helps search engines to find and crawl all relevant pages of a website, especially for large websites or those with deeply nested pages or dynamic content.

Robots.txt

The robots.txt file is a powerful tool that helps you to instruct search engines which areas of your website should be crawled and which should not.

The correct configuration of robots.txt is crucial to ensure that search engines are not distracted by unimportant or private pages. Here are a few examples of the use of robots.txt:

  • User-agent: Googlebot – Specific instructions for Google’s crawler only.
  • Disallow: /non-public-area/ – Blocks access to certain directories.
  • Allow: / – Allows crawling of the entire website, except for those areas that are explicitly excluded.

Indexability: HTTP status codes, use of “noindex”, canonical tags

The indexability of your website is crucial for how search engines understand your content and include it in their index. After all, your content marketing efforts should also lead to success.

Correct handling of HTTP status codes, “noindex” instructions and canonical tags plays a central role here.

You can easily check whether a page is indexed in the Google Search Console or directly in Google Search:

site:deinedomain.com/zu-pruefende-url

HTTP status codes

HTTP status codes are responses from the server to requests from browsers or search engines and signal the status of the requested resource. Here are some important status codes you should know:

  • 200 OK: This is the ideal status code that indicates that the page has loaded successfully and is ready for display.
  • 301 Moved Permanently: This status code is used to specify a permanent redirect from an old URL to a new one. It is particularly useful when restructuring a website or after moving a domain.
  • 404 Not Found: Indicates that the requested page was not found. This should be handled correctly to ensure a good user experience and prevent search engines from wasting time trying to index non-existent pages.
  • 503 Service Unavailable: This status should be used if the website is temporarily unavailable for technical reasons, for example during maintenance work.

What is the difference between 301 and 302 redirects?

A 301 redirect indicates a permanent move of a page and transfers most of the link authority to the new page. A 302 redirect is temporary and tells search engines that the original page is expected to return, while the link authority remains with the original URL.

How do redirect chains influence SEO?

Long redirect chains (several consecutive redirects) can make crawling more difficult and increase the page load time, which has a negative impact on both the user experience and SEO. You should therefore avoid redirect chains.

Use of “noindex”

The “noindex” tag is a powerful tool that instructs search engines not to include a page in their index. It is particularly useful for pages that should not appear in the search results, such as internal search results pages or certain pages used for administrative purposes. How to implement the “noindex” tag:

  • Insert into the HTML header of the relevant page:
  • Via HTTP header, especially useful for media files or other non-HTML resources: X-Robots-Tag: noindex

Canonical tags

Canonical tags help to avoid problems with duplicate content by signaling the preferred version of a page to search engines. This is important if similar or identical content is accessible via several URLs. The use of canonical tags helps to concentrate SEO power on the preferred URL and avoid splitting link authority. How to use a canonical tag:

  • Insert the canonical tag in the <head> area of the page: <link rel=” canonical ” href=” https://www.beispiel.de/bevorzugte-seite-url/ “>

Renderability: JavaScript, CSS, mobile optimization

The renderability of a website refers to how well search engines can understand and display the content of a page.

Optimal renderability ensures that your content is not only indexed correctly, but also presented attractively in the search engine results (SERPs).

This includes the correct handling of JavaScript and CSS as well as the optimization of the website for mobile devices.

JavaScript

Many modern websites use JavaScript to enable dynamic content and interactive functions. However, JavaScript can be a challenge for search engines if it is not implemented correctly.

  • Server-side rendering (SSR): With SSR, the JavaScript code is executed on the server and the result is sent to the browser as finished HTML. This makes crawling and indexing easier for search engines, as the content is already available in HTML.
  • Progressive enhancement: Design your website so that the basic content and functionality are also accessible without JavaScript. This ensures that search engines and users without JavaScript capabilities can see your content.
  • Prerendering: Use tools to convert dynamic JavaScript pages into static HTML before they are crawled by search engines. This can be particularly useful for websites that are based on Single Page Applications (SPAs).

CSS

CSS is crucial for the visual layout of your website, but can also affect rendering if content is masked by overlays or hidden ads. Make sure that your CSS implementation does not hide the content for search engines:

  • Avoid hidden text: Make sure that important content is not hidden by CSS techniques such as display: none or visibility: hidden, as these may be ignored by search engines.
  • Optimize the loading times: Use compressed CSS files and avoid overly complex stylesheets that can slow down loading times.

Mobile optimization

Since Google uses a mobile-first index, optimizing your website for mobile devices is crucial. This means that Google primarily uses the mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing.

  • Responsive design: Your website should work well on different devices and screen sizes. This is usually achieved through responsive web design, where CSS media queries are used to adapt the layout to the screen size.
  • Loading times: Mobile devices often have less powerful processors and slower internet connections. Optimize images, minimize JavaScript and CSS and use techniques such as lazy loading to improve loading times. More on this in a moment.
  • User-friendliness: Make sure the menus are easy to access, the touch targets are large enough and the font sizes are easy to read.

Technical aspects of page performance

A fast and responsive website is crucial for a good user experience and an essential factor for technical SEO optimization.

The performance of your website not only influences how visitors interact with your site, but also how search engines rate your site. Here are two critical areas you should focus on:

PageSpeed: Improvements and use of CDNs

Good website performance improves user satisfaction and increases the likelihood that visitors will stay on your website.

  • Optimize images: Compress images without compromising quality and use modern formats such as WebP, which offer high quality at lower file sizes.
  • Minimize JavaScript and CSS: Reduce the size of these files with tools that remove unnecessary characters (minifying). This reduces the time required to load and process these resources.
  • Use browser caching: Configure your server so that frequently requested resources such as stylesheets, images and JavaScript files are cached in the user’s browser. This reduces loading times on repeated visits.
  • Use of content delivery networks (CDNs): CDNs store copies of your website on servers all over the world. This means that content is delivered to users faster, as the data is geographically closer to the user. This is particularly effective for websites with an international audience.

Mobile optimization and core web vitals

Optimization for mobile devices is essential, as more and more users are accessing the Internet via smartphones. Google uses the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking, which underlines the need for a well-optimized mobile website.

The Core Web Vitals are specific factors that Google considers to be part of the user experience:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures how long it takes for the largest content in the field of view to load. A good value is less than 2.5 seconds.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measures the time from when a user first interacts with your site until the site responds. The target value should be less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Evaluates how often content on the page is unexpectedly shifted while the page is loading. A good value is less than 0.1.

To improve these metrics, you should consider the following steps:

  • Adapt responsive design: Make sure your website looks and works well on all devices and adapt layouts to different screen sizes.
  • Improve server response times: Optimize your server configuration or switch to a faster hosting provider.
  • Resource prioritization: Prioritize the loading of critical resources to provide users with visible and interactive content as quickly as possible.

Page structure and navigation

A logical and clearly structured website is essential, both for user-friendliness and for search engine optimization.

An intuitive page structure makes navigation easier for users and helps search engines to better understand and index the content of your website.

Optimization of the page structure

A well-thought-out page structure creates a better user experience and improves the SEO performance of your website. The following points should be taken into account:

  • Hierarchical structure: Organize the content of your website in a clear hierarchy. Start with a homepage from which main categories are accessed, which in turn are subdivided into subcategories and individual pages.
  • Limiting the click depth: Ideally, information on your website should not be more than three clicks away from the homepage. This helps users and search engines to find information quickly and efficiently.
  • Internal linking: Use internal links to create connections between relevant content. This not only strengthens SEO, but also helps users to easily find other relevant information.

URL structure

The structure of your URLs plays an important role in the findability of your pages. A clear and consistent URL structure is useful for search engines and users alike. Here are some tips for optimization:

  • Short and concise: Keep your URLs short and descriptive. Avoid long URL structures with unnecessary parameters.
  • Use keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your URLs. This improves the relevance of your pages and can help to improve rankings.
  • Use hyphens: Use hyphens (-) to separate words in URLs as they are easier to read than underscores (_) or spaces.

Breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation aid that shows users where they are within the website structure. They not only improve the user experience by enabling easy back navigation, but also help search engines to understand the structure of the website. How to optimize breadcrumbs for your website:

  • Visual clarity: Make sure that the breadcrumbs are visually recognizable and placed above the main content.
  • Consistency: Keep the breadcrumb navigation consistent on every page of your website. Each breadcrumb link should lead to a logical and existing page.

Additional technical SEO tips

To further improve the technical SEO of your website, there are other important measures you can take in addition to the aspects already mentioned.

This includes the implementation of HTTPS, the use of structured data and the correct use of the Hreflang attribute. Here you can find out how to use these elements effectively:

HTTPS

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and is a protocol for secure communication via a computer network. Switching from HTTP to HTTPS is important for several reasons:

  • Security: HTTPS encrypts the exchanged data traffic, which guarantees the security of your users’ information. This is particularly important when sensitive data such as credit card information or personal data is transmitted.
  • Trust: An HTTPS connection signals to users that your website is secure, which increases trust and improves the likelihood of a visit or purchase.
  • SEO benefits: Google has confirmed that HTTPS serves as a ranking factor. Websites that run via HTTPS can therefore have an SEO advantage over non-secured websites.

To implement HTTPS, you need an SSL certificate, which is provided by many hosting providers, often even free of charge via Let’s Encrypt.

Structured data

Structured data helps search engines to better understand the content of your website and display it accordingly in the search results. By implementing structured data, for example, you can create rich snippets that are more eye-catching and potentially achieve a higher click-through rate (CTR). How to use structured data:

  • Schema.org: Use the markups from Schema.org to make your pages easier to understand for search engines. This can include information on products, reviews, organizations and more.
  • JSON-LD: This is the recommended format for integrating structured data into your website. It is placed in the header area of the HTML page and is recognized by most major search engines.

Technical SEO for multilingual websites

International SEO is crucial for companies that want to reach a global audience. The choice of the right URL structure, the use of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and effective management of hreflang tags are key aspects that need to be carefully considered.

Choosing the right domain structure

Structuring the URL for international websites can be done in different ways, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Subdomains: For example de.example.com for Germany. Subdomains are useful if the individual country pages differ greatly in terms of the type or volume of content. One disadvantage is that subdomains could be considered by search engines as separate entities, which means that the authority of the main domain may not be fully transferred to the subdomains.
  • Subdirectories: For example example.com/en/ for Germany. This method is advantageous for SEO, as all subdirectories benefit from the authority of the main domain. This is easier to manage than subdomains, but requires clear and consistent navigation and structure to ensure that search engines and users understand the geographic targeting.
  • ccTLDs: For example example.de for Germany. These are particularly effective in signaling the geographical destination of the website to search engines and users. The downside is that each ccTLD is considered a completely independent domain, which means that each domain must establish its own SEO authority.

Management of Hreflang tags

Hreflang tags are crucial for multilingual and multinational websites to show search engines which language or regional version of a page is relevant for which users. To the best practices

  • Accuracy: Make sure that the hreflang tags are implemented correctly, including the correct language and country codes. This involves inserting a backlink from each version of the page to all other versions, including itself.
  • Completeness: Each language or country variant should have corresponding hreflang tags. This helps Google and other search engines to understand how the content is organized and prevents problems with incorrectly assigned language versions.
  • Review: Regular implementation reviews are important, as errors in Hreflang implementations can lead to indexing and ranking problems. Tools such as the Google Search Console can help to identify and correct errors.

Management of multilingual content

Effective management of multilingual content is crucial to ensure consistency and quality across all language versions. Here are some key strategies:

  • Consistent structure: Maintain a consistent URL structure across all language versions. This not only simplifies the implementation of hreflang tags, but also makes the website architecture clearer for users and search engines.
  • Localization vs. translation: It is important not only to translate content, but also to localize it to address cultural nuances and local conditions. This improves the relevance and resonance of the content with the target group.
  • Quality control: Implement processes to check the accuracy and quality of translations. Incorrect or inaccurate translations can damage the brand image and are often less effective in SEO.
  • Technological support: Use CMS functions or third-party tools that have been specially developed for managing multilingual content. WPML is ideal for WordPress users.

Technical SEO for online stores

In e-commerce, technical SEO is particularly crucial, as it is not just about ranking, but also about offering users a smooth shopping experience.

Particularly important here are the optimization of product pages, categorization and faceted navigation, the handling of customer reviews and ratings, and the management of product variants.

Product page optimization

Product pages are the most important elements of an online store. They must be optimized for both search engines and users in order to achieve a high conversion rate:

  • Meta tags: Each product page should have unique meta tags (title and description) that contain relevant keywords. These tags should be precise and appealing to both encourage clicks in search results and signal relevance to search engines.
  • Product descriptions: High-quality, informative and keyword-optimized product descriptions not only help with SEO, but also with the user experience. Avoid duplicates with individual texts for similar products.
  • Images and videos: Optimize the images and add alt texts that contain relevant keywords. High-quality images and videos can increase user engagement and improve the time spent on the site.
  • Mobile optimization: Make sure that all product pages work well on mobile devices, as more and more users are shopping via smartphones.

Categorization and faceted navigation

The structure of an online store must be clear and logical in order to make navigation easier for both users and search engines:

  • Clear category structures: Create a hierarchical structure that allows users to navigate intuitively through the product range. Breadcrumbs should also be used here.
  • Faceted navigation: While useful for users, it can cause SEO issues such as duplicate content. Implement noindex tags for less important filter pages and use canonical tags to indicate the main page of the category to search engines.

Handling customer reviews and ratings for technical SEO

Customer reviews are not only important for other customers’ purchasing decisions, but also for SEO:

  • Rich Snippets: Integrate structured data for reviews and ratings to enable rich snippets in search results, which can increase visibility and user engagement.
  • Fresh content: Reviews regularly add new and unique content to product pages, which is seen by search engines as a positive indicator that the page is up-to-date.

Handling of product variants in technical SEO

Product variants, such as different sizes or colors of an item, can pose SEO challenges:

  • Canonical tags: Use canonical tags to prevent search engines from classifying similar pages as duplicate content. The canonical tag should point to the representative main page of the product variant.
  • Parameters in URLs: Manage URL parameters effectively to control how search engines handle different product variants. Use the Google Search Console to configure parameters correctly and control which URLs should be crawled.

Frequently asked questions regarding advanced technical SEO

What is the “crawl budget” and how can it be optimized?

The crawl budget refers to the number of pages that a search engine bot crawls on a website within a certain period of time. You can optimize the crawl budget by removing dead links, duplicate content and unimportant pages, increasing the crawl priority of important pages through the sitemap and internal links, and ensuring fast server response times.

How can you ensure that dynamic content is indexed correctly by search engines?

Dynamic content generated with JavaScript can cause problems with crawling and indexing. To ensure that this content is captured by search engines, server-side rendering or prerendering technologies can be used.

What are the challenges of SEO for single page applications (SPAs)?

SPAs load content dynamically and often use JavaScript intensively, which can make crawling and indexing more difficult. Solutions such as server-side rendering or the implementation of prerendering services can help to overcome these challenges.

How does the use of iframes affect SEO?

Content in iframes can be difficult for search engines to crawl, and links within an iframe can have less SEO value. It is recommended to embed important content directly in the HTML document instead of loading it via iframes.

What strategies are there to improve the indexing of deep pages in large websites?

  • Navigation links: Make sure that the main navigation of the website covers all important areas and that deep pages are accessible via categories or subcategories.
  • Contextual Linking: Use links within the content to refer to relevant deep pages. This not only helps search engines to find these pages, but also helps users to discover more relevant content.
  • Footer links: Sometimes important but deeper pages can be linked via the footer to increase their visibility.
Hannes Kaltofen

Hannes Kaltofen

Gründer & Geschäftsführer

Seit über 7 Jahren in den SERPs unterwegs. Dank SEO konnte Ich das Affiliate Marketing, Blogging und Agenturgeschäft kennelernen und helfe Unternehmen tagtäglich bei ihrer Sichtbarkeit.

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