Optimize your website’s technical infrastructure
Ensuring that the content created can be easily read by both humans and search engines is vital. To achieve this, having a grasp of technical optimization for SEO is essential. The chapter is divided into three sections that delve into the following topics:
- The functioning of websites
- How search engines comprehend websites
- How users interact with websites
Given the significant impact that the technical structure of a site can have on its performance, everyone must understand these principles.
How websites work
SEOs must have at least a fundamental understanding of what they are optimizing for search engine optimization, which involves optimizing a website for search.
The critical rendering path, which encompasses the journey of a website from domain name purchase to fully rendered page in a browser, is a crucial aspect of website development.
SEOs need to comprehend this aspect of websites for several reasons, including:
- The steps involved in assembling a webpage can impact page loading times, and fast loading is critical for keeping users on the site and for Google’s ranking algorithm.
This chapter outlines how to identify website inefficiencies, streamline the process, and the positive effects on both rankings and user experience.
Before a website can be accessed, it needs to be set up
- Domain name is purchased. Domain names are purchased from a domain name registrar such as SiteGround. These registrars are just organizations that manage the reservations of domain names.
- Domain name is linked to IP address. The Internet doesn’t understand names like “bbc.com” as website addresses without the help of domain name servers DNS. The Internet uses a series of numbers called an Internet protocol IP address but we want to use names like bbc.com because they are easier for humans to remember. We need to use a DNS to link those human-readable names with machine-readable numbers.
How a website gets from server to browser
- When a user enters a domain name into their browser, it triggers a request for the website. The name is then linked to an IP address via DNS, allowing people to request the website directly by typing the domain name or clicking on a link.
- Upon receiving the request, the server sends the website files to be assembled in the user’s browser.
- As the browser parses and organizes all the web page’s resources, it creates a Document Object Model (DOM) to render the web page.
- The browser will only display the web page after downloading, parsing, and executing its necessary code. If additional code is required, the browser will make another request to the server before rendering the final version of the web page.
- The website is now fully rendered and appears in the user’s browser, having undergone the entire journey from code to the visible web page.
How search engines understand websites
In a huge article with thousands of words, how does Google identify details, the context and other information? This is where schema markup comes in. The schema markup allows you to provide Google with more specific classifications for what type of information is on your page.
Schema organizes your web page content to provide Google with a better understanding of specific elements. This is accomplished by using code that structures your data, commonly known as “structured data” or schema. The process of organizing your content with this code is often referred to as “markup.”
Schema markup not only helps Google to comprehend the subject matter of your content, but it can also enable your pages to display special features in the SERPs known as rich snippets. These can include top stories, carousels, review stars, site links, search boxes, and recipes.
It’s important to note that while structured data can facilitate the presence of rich snippets, it does not guarantee them. As schema markup becomes more prevalent, other rich snippets will likely be introduced.
Tell search engines about your preferred pages with canonicalization
The rel=”canonical” tag was developed to assist Google in identifying which version of the same content on different web pages to index in search results. This tag indicates to search engines the location of the original, master version of a piece of content. Using the canonical tag, you can republish some content, whether the same or slightly modified, without duplicating content.
It is crucial to ensure proper canonicalization of every unique piece of content on your website so that each content item has only one URL. Google advises having a self-referencing canonical tag on every page on your site to prevent search engines from indexing multiple versions of the same page.
The importance of avoiding duplicate content is widely recognized on the internet. Google values unique and valuable content rather than content copied from other sources and repeated across several pages. As a result, search engines seldom display various versions of the same content. Instead, they show only the canonicalized one; if a canonical tag is absent, the version will most likely be the original.
How users interact with webpages
While the term SEO stands for search engine optimization, it’s important to remember that optimizing a website for search engines is also about optimizing it for those who use them. Search engines aim to provide users with the best possible search experience. This is why Google’s algorithm rewards sites that deliver excellent user experiences, even if they have other qualities like solid backlinks.
By understanding what constitutes an optimal browsing experience for users, you can create a website that provides such an experience and thus performs well in search results.
Ensuring a positive experience for your mobile visitors
With a majority of all web traffic coming from mobile devices, you need to ensure that your website is accessible and easy to navigate for mobile visitors. In 2015 Google rolled out an update to its algorithm that would promote mobile-friendly pages over non-mobile-friendly pages.
How can you ensure that your website is optimized for mobile devices? There are three main ways to configure your website for mobile, but Google recommends using responsive web design.
With responsive design, your website will automatically adjust to fit the screen of any device visitors use, utilizing CSS to create a layout that “responds” to the device size. This is the preferred method because it eliminates the need for visitors to double-tap or zoom in to view your content.
Ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly is a crucial task for SEO. To do so, your website should have the following features:
- A responsive layout
- Easy-to-navigate menu for mobile devices
- Compressed images
- No intrusive pop-ups
- A legible font
Suppose you need help determining whether your website is mobile-friendly. In that case, you can use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool or check for any issues in the Mobile Usability section of the Search Console.
Improving pages speed to mitigate visitor frustration
Google wants to serve content that loads quickly for searchers. Visitors on websites expect fast-loading results. If they don’t get them, they quickly go back to the SERP in search of a better, faster page. This is why page speed is a crucial aspect of on-site SEO.
Huge-sized images slow down page loading
One of the primary causes of slow-loading web pages is large image files. In addition to compressing images, selecting the appropriate image format, and providing image sitemaps, other technical methods enhance the speed and presentation of images on your website. Optimizing image alt text is another way to do this.
Improving the experience for international audiences
Websites targeting audiences from multiple countries should familiarize themselves with international SEO best practices in order to serve up the most relevant experiences. Without these optimizations, international visitors might have difficulty finding the version of your site that caters to them.
There are two main ways a website can be internationalized:
- Sites that target speakers of multiple languages are considered multilingual websites. These sites should add something called an hreflang tag to show Google that your page has copy for another language. Learn more about hreflang.
- Websites that target audiences in multiple countries are called multi-regional websites. These should choose a URL structure that makes it easy to target their domain or pages to specific countries. This can include the use of a country code top level domain (ccTLD) such as “.ca” for Canada, or a generic top-level domain (gTLD) with a country-specific subfolder such as “example.com/ca” for Canada. Learn more about locale-specific URLs.