The ultimate guide to technical SEO for 2020

The ultimate guide to technical SEO for 2020

Meta description: With people turning to the internet more than ever, it’s time to improve your online reach by following the trends in technical SEO for 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic and measures to contain it have kept people in their homes for the majority of this year. It’s no surprise, then, that we are spending more time online than ever before. We order groceries online, teach children in virtual classrooms, get our news from websites and social media, and use the Internet for entertainment. While this shift has negatively affected many businesses, there are ways in which it can be an opportunity for you to grow as well. You can use this time of increased online activity to improve your website and, with it, your online reach. One of the most effective ways to improve your search engine rankings is by following the best practices of technical SEO for 2020.

What is technical SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization; it’s a way of designing and running websites with the goal of improving their rankings in search engine results. Everything you do in the name of SEO can be broken down into three categories: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. Most people are familiar with on-page and off-page SEO these days. On-page SEO refers to the content you put out, the keywords you use, your headlines and links, and everything else that shows search engines and readers what you’re all about. Off-page SEO comes down to your connections with other websites – linking to reputable online sources and being linked in turn shows your popularity and usefulness, which improves your rankings in search engine results.

Alt tag: Laptop open on someone’s blog. Caption: Putting out good content is not enough to maximize your website’s reach.

But people who don’t hire SEO experts for their business often overlook the technical aspect of SEO because it is less obvious and less intuitive. It is the process of optimizing your website for crawling, indexing, and rendering by search engine bots. The goal of this process is to improve organic rankings. Combined with other SEO elements, it can have remarkable effects on your positioning in search engine results.

The best ways to improve technical SEO in 2020

The online world is one that changes fast and changes often. Therefore, it’s important to follow the latest news from the fields of SEO and technology if you want to stay on top of the game. As Google (and other search engines) change the ways in which they produce their results, you must adjust. It is for this reason that knowing the best ways to improve technical SEO for 2020 is vital.

Protect your website with SSL

SSL or Secure Socket Layer is a way to protect the data exchanged between two parties (your website and either your server or your client). Not only is it good for both you and your users, but it can also improve your search engine rankings. Google and other search engines prioritize SSL-protected websites, so securing your website this way is an excellent place to start technical optimization. It’s pretty easy to obtain an SSL certificate from your host or a certificate authority.

Optimize your website for mobile users

About 60% of people browse the Internet on their phones or tablets these days. That means more than half of your visitors are likely to be using mobile browsers when they visit your website. If you want them to have a streamlined experience with your website, you need to optimize it for mobile browsers. You can do this by setting up menus for mobile users, using a mobile-friendly font, increasing loading speeds, and more. This won’t just affect your users’ satisfaction – Google actually includes mobile-friendliness in its rankings, especially when the person conducting the search is on mobile themself.

Alt tag: Person browsing the internet on their phone. Caption: More than half of your users are probably viewing your website on their phones.

Increase your loading speed

Gone are the days of dial-up Internet when we patiently waited for a few minutes on end to open a simple news article. These days, it’s all about speed. The faster your page load, the better. This is especially important when doing SEO for small businesses that rely on their websites to attract clients. Since both end-users and search engines like high page speed, you want to do whatever you can to decrease the amount of time your website takes to load by:

  • compressing files,
  • minifying CSS, JavaScript and HTML,
  • relying on caching more,
  • improving server response time,
  • optimizing images,
  • using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) plugins for mobile pages, and more.

Structure your website properly

Any SEO Company Atlanta worth its salt will make sure your website is structured in a logical and consistent way. This is aesthetically pleasing and helpful to end-users trying to navigate your website. But it also helps your rankings because it can prevent issues with crawling and indexing down the line. The best way to go is a flat, highly organized structure of pages and subpages that are logically interlinked with one another. Combine this with breadcrumbs (text paths on the page that indicate where the user is within the website structure), and you’ll significantly improve SEO and user experience both.

Make your website easier to crawl and index

Crawling and indexing are two separate but related processes that help your website climb on search engine result pages. When Googlebot examines your pages and analyzes their content and structure, that’s crawling. When the page is made eligible to appear in Google results, that’s indexing. You want to make both of these as easy as possible for Googlebot so that your website appears in search results faster and at a higher position. Creating an XML sitemap is an excellent way to do this. This is an XML file that contains all the pages on your website and updates with new content, making it easier for Googlebot to keep track of everything. If you’re adept at coding, you should also consider adding structured data, which provides key information about the content in a way that’s easy for Googlebot to read.

Fix broken links and set up permanent redirection

All websites have some pages that have moved, changed, or just been deleted. But you don’t want to be promoting your brand on social media and linking to an error page. So go through your website (manually or with a plugin) and look at all your primary pages. If there are duplicates, try to consolidate them. If you find any broken links, remove or replace them. Use 301 permanent redirections to help users reach pages that have changed URLs. All this will improve your website structure and connection to other websites. Finally, set up a customized 404 error page that provides users with useful information like similar pages, a subscription link, or a sincere message. There will always be some issues, especially on large websites with hundreds and thousands of pages. But you can still give your users the best possible experience even when they encounter such issues.

The ultimate guide to technical SEO for 2020

Alt tag: Person using their laptop to work on technical SEO for 2020. Caption: When your users click on a link, make sure that it takes them somewhere.

Use reporting and tracking tools to track your success

It is not easy to keep track of all the technical requirements Google sets for websites these days. If you’re new to technical SEO, you might not even know what to look for. Luckily, you don’t have to. Google has set up a multitude of tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Structured Data Testing Tool, and more. Use these to analyze your website, see how it ranks in various categories, identify problems, and track the success of implemented solutions. This will make improving your rankings easier.

Remember that improving technical SEO for 2020 trends is not enough

While following the latest guidelines for technical SEO for 2020 will greatly help your website, it’s not enough. Technical SEO is still just one portion of SEO. To achieve the best possible results, you need to keep working on the other aspects of SEO too. This includes optimizing your content in accordance with Google trends and buildings links with other websites. None of these tactics is enough on its own – you must combine them all. That is the best way to find yourself on the first page of Google search results this year.

John Norwood
John Norwood is best known as a technology journalist, currently at Ziddu where he focuses on tech startups, companies, and products.