1. Introduction
Article #1.2

Introduction to Technical SEO

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO ensures that your website is optimized for both humans and crawlers alike. SEO meta tags, page speed, mobile optimization, etc. are all essential aspects of Technical SEO. So, if your website has discrepancies in these areas, your rankings will drop consistently until these errors are identified and resolved.

When it comes to SEO, Technical SEO is just as crucial as On-Page and Off-Page SEO. As a matter of fact, these are all interrelated because certain On Page and Off Page metrics are dependent on Technical SEO and vice versa. 

Confused? Here are some pointers to help you understand the difference between these three forms of SEO.

What is the difference between On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process of making a website search engine friendly. It is because of SEO that web pages rank higher in Google search results and can drive organic traffic. On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical optimization are all broad subparts of SEO. For a website to generate quality traffic, it must balance these elements to achieve the sweet spot.

However, before that, you need to understand the primary difference between these three processes of optimization:

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO is the process of optimizing various components of a particular web page to enhance its SERP rankings and online visibility. Majorly, On-Page is concerned with content optimization and is the first step towards informing the crawlers about the keywords for which the page should be indexed and ranked.


The process includes Keyword Research, Content Optimization, Internal Linking, SEO meta tag optimization, etc.

Off-Page SEO

Improving a site’s ranking by focusing on the factors outside the boundaries of its pages is known as Off-Page SEO. It helps in enhancing a website’s reputation in the eyes of search engine crawlers and boosts it’s rankings and domain authority.


The process includes Link Building (broad) - Blog Commenting, Forum Postings, etc., Social Media Optimization, Guest Posting, and so forth.

Technical SEO

This aspect of SEO focuses on making it easier for the search engine crawlers to crawl through effectively and index every page of a website. The primary purpose of this is to analyze and maintain the technical aspects of a website corresponding to SEO. These technical aspects do not fall under either the On-Page or Off-page. It is through Technical SEO that we can have a stable SEO by monitoring all the elements that build up to it. 


The process includes monitoring and optimizing Page Speed, UX and UI, Meta Tags Optimization, URL Structure, Sitemaps, etc.

Importance Of Technical SEO

Good Technical SEO improves the overall performance of a website, whereas bad Technical SEO deteriorates it. For instance, after hours of hard work, you’ve created a piece of content that is unique, informational, and can scale up your search engine rankings quickly. Also, you have invested an ample amount of budget on its social media promotion.

However, if someone clicks on the link to read that piece of content and the landing page takes a lot of time to load, that will drastically increase the chances of users switching to a competitor. Studies have shown that users leave a web page before 10 seconds, it is clear that your content will not get the traction it deserves. This increases your bounce rate, which then leads to falling SERP positions. Moreover, this is just one crucial aspect of Technical SEO.

Here are other factors that make it necessary for your website to excel in technical optimization:

1. “Mobilegeddon” is upon us


In 2016, Google announced that it was starting to work on Mobile-first Indexing because of the rising numbers of searches being performed on mobile devices. Ever since the announcement, webmasters started calling it the “Mobilegeddon.” Mobile-first indexing’s first update was rolled out on March 26, 2018, after a year and a half of careful experimentations.

The initiative was planned carefully, and Google’s anticipation proved to be accurate. Over the years, the number of mobile users has increased while the desktop is still trying to retain its falling user share.

The motive of shifting to Mobile-first indexing was to enhance the search quality for mobile users. In this initiative, Google favors indexing and ranking those sites which are mobile-optimized atop the others (sites that are not mobile optimized). So, if your website is not optimized for mobile, your search engine rankings will fall, making mobile optimization a significant Google ranking factor. Therefore, you need to optimize your site for mobile devices if you haven’t already.

You can use a Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check if your domain is mobile optimized or not. If the tool finds out that the entered domain is not Mobile-friendly, it provides a list of ways to make your website mobile optimized.

2. Security is a priority

User security is a top priority for Google. 

If your site is not secured, its effect will reflect in the falling search engine rankings of your domain. Google has been advising websites to adopt SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and shift from HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) before announcing the Chrome 68 update.

This Chrome update flagged every domain running on HTTP as “Not Secure.” And pages that are not secure will rank further down the SERPs. So, if your domain still runs on HTTP protocol, it is time for you to switch to HTTPS before your organic search rankings tank.

In HTTP domains, the user information is not encrypted, which increases the chances of it being utilized for ulterior motives. Hence, HTTPS is essential because these domains store the data in encrypted formats and secure the user’s information. Google decided for this initiative to move one step closer to making the web more secure. 

3. Link errors push you down the SERPs

If you visit a site and access one of its links for more information and end up on a 404 error page, won’t that be annoying? It will be! And not only for users but for the Googlebot as well. In such cases, the next logical step is to exit the page and look for another one in the organic search that resolves our query. This instant bounce-back of the user is called Pogo Sticking, and it frustrates Google.

For instance, one of your web pages is ranking #1 in Google SERPs, but when searchers access it, they face an ‘Error 404: Page Does Not Exist’ message. Just as the message appears, they immediately hit the back button and click on another search result in the SERPs. This informs Google that the #1 result doesn’t provide searchers with appropriate solutions to their queries, so they further push it down the SERPs.

The same case will happen if you apply a wrong 302 or 301 redirect to a particular page. Therefore, you must identify and rectify such broken links and errors to improve your online reputation and rankings.

You can use tools like Link Analyzer or Backlink Checker to conduct a comprehensive analysis on a domain’s backlinks. Once such links are identified, you can work on fixing them.

4. Crawl errors affect indexing



You must have used the Coverage section in the new Google Search Console (GSC). There, you can see all the errors on our site being displayed. Errors are not to be taken lightly. They record the issues that block the spider from crawling your domain.

These Google Crawl Errors need to be rectified because they can stop individual web pages of your site from being indexed, let alone ranked.

5. Image-related issues lead to falling rankings


Every site needs to have a web design that is easy to navigate with appropriate visuals. This is to break the monotony of textual information and keep the reader engaged. However, you have to use visuals smartly. For instance, you cannot upload large image files because that affects the page loading speed, which ultimately affects the user’s experience on your website.

The images must not be heavy and should include alt text so that even if it does not load, the user can know the context of the image. Also, adding an Alt Tag carrying the focus keyword to every image should be a regular practice, as they help Google bots to “read” the images and know their content. Google bots use the information provided in Alt Tags to help Google index the images and rank them based on the keywords. 

6. Presence of duplicate content is a BIG problem

Your website should NEVER have duplicate content unless you want to receive Google penalties. One straightforward solution to duplicate content amongst many is deleting it.

But if you delete it, make sure you add an appropriate redirect so that the visitor lands on a related and worthy page. But, in case you do not want to delete the page, you need to add a canonical tag to it pointing to the original page, so that when the crawler visits, it knows which is the authority page. 

These are some of the main reasons why you must perform a technical audit of your website’s SEO at regular intervals.

Technical SEO Factors

  • Preferred Domain

A site can be accessed either with www or without www. For instance, you can access RankWatch via www.rankwatch.com and rankwatch.com. While this format is convenient for searchers as they no longer have to prefix ‘www’ before every domain, it confuses Google and other search engines like Bing, etc. about which one’s the preferred domain - www or non-www.

This confusion results in your site encountering issues concerned with indexing, duplicate content, and abrupt fall in the search rankings. Hence, the search engines must be aware of your preferred domain, so the appropriate version of your site is indexed and ranked. You can use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to inform Google about your preferred domain. Other than this, you can apply a 301 redirect on either one of your site’s versions.

  • XML Sitemap

Googlebot has billions of webpages to crawl, so you need to make sure that all the important web pages of your site are crawled and indexed. And there's no better way to do this than creating a sitemap.

XML sitemaps are maps to every page of your website submitted to the search engine allowing it to index your entire site (including all the pages). However, you need to ensure that only the important/valuable pages of your website are included in the sitemap. You must exclude the unimportant pages like the author's page, etc. from the list.

Furthermore, make sure that whenever a new page is added, it gets updated in the sitemap automatically. After creating it, do submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to check their indexing status and consistently monitor their SERP performance.

Creating an XML sitemap can be a handful. You just need the right tool that creates sitemaps in a matter of seconds - use the XML Sitemap Generate free tool by RankWatch. Just enter your domain URL and the tool will create sitemaps for you.

  • Robots.txt file

A Robots.txt file instructs the crawler whether to crawl and index a page or not. You can find the file in your site’s root directory. In the majority of cases, hardly any changes are required for this file format. However, in some cases, important pages of a site can get blocked by mistake, which stops their crawling. You need to fix this issue. Just visit: https://www.yourwebsite.com/robots.txt

This will trigger open a page that looks something like this:


There are several conditions residing in a Robots.txt file and each serves a separate purpose.


Check which pages have been blocked mistakenly and remove them from the directory.

  • Breadcrumb (navigation) menu

Breadcrumb menus make it easier for visitors to navigate through a website. Such menus leave a breadcrumb trail to the visitor's current location. This trail reduces the visitor's efforts to consistently press the back button to return to the origin page or other pages of the trail. The absence of breadcrumb menus can force the new visitors to exit your website, increasing your bounce rate. Also, they can harm the user's experience on your site.

Here's what a breadcrumb menu looks like:

Apart from that, most of the breadcrumb menus are horizontal, so they won’t take much space on your page.

  • Pagination

Pagination refers to the breaking of a long comprehensive document into discrete pages. This division provides a structure to the information on your website and improves the user’s experience. Improper implementation of pagination can lead to a rise in duplicate and thin content issues. Therefore, you must be careful when it comes to pagination. You can use codes like rel=’next’ or rel=’prev’ to let the search engines know about the pages in continuation and the “main” page that it should index.

Here’s an example of pagination:

  • Canonical Issue

If two pages on your site have similar content, you need to apply a canonical tag on the authority page. Incorrect implementation of the tag or absence of it leads to duplicate content issues. Also, it confuses the bot to determine which page to index. 

You can fix the canonical issue by following this guide by Google. You can also check that duplicate pages have canonical tags informing the crawlers about the correct page to index.

The canonical tag is used mainly by e-commerce sites as they cater to a vast number of similar products that fall under separate categories. 

  • URL Structure

You need to perform regular checks on the URL structure of your site and its pages. Focus on all the necessary elements and maintain the required structure. The URL structure should be in lower case with each word separated by a hyphen (‘-’). You must also avoid using stop or unnecessary words like the, a, an, in, etc. Other than this, it is imperative that you include keywords in the URL organically for SEO purposes and not stuff them.

  • Custom 404 Page

Almost every website has a page that returns an error 404 - page does not exist. Their presence can affect traffic and increase the bounce rate. There are many reasons concerned with such an issue. It is possible that the page was deleted, or the user searched for the wrong URL.

You must optimize the pages returning the 404 error code. The best way to do so is by including links to other pages in them or informing the visitors about the page's unavailability. If you do this, you can direct traffic to other webpages on your site.

  • Hreflang Tag

If you are publishing content in more than one language, then you need to inform Google about it with the hreflang tag. This will assist Google in serving the audience with the right result. For instance, if you have a blog written in English and a variant of it in Spanish, you can put the hreflang tag on the former.

Example of the hreflang tag:

  • Image Scaling

The size of an image has a lasting impact on a page’s loading speed and SEO. A small 108*72 pixel image can load faster than a substantial 1080*720p image file. You need to upload images that complement the page’s requirements; you cannot upload a 1080*720p image at a 108*72 pixel space. The content which surrounds the image will load, but the image itself won’t. Therefore, the images should be scaled according to the page's specifications to keep the user experience unaffected. You can use the Image Resizer tool to help you with the process. Just upload an image and resize it as per your needs.

  • Server Response Time

Server response time refers to the amount of time the HTTP code takes to start rendering the page from the server. If your server takes time to respond to the query, it is evident that the page will load accordingly. This is an issue that must be resolved instantly. Once you identify that your site is loading slowly due to the server’s delayed response, you need to replace it with a powerful one. Otherwise, your website will keep loading slowly, and your bounce will increase consistently.

  • Empty Pages

If there exist empty pages on your website, you need to remove them immediately. There’s no point in keeping a page with no meaningful content. It is essential to remove such pages because the search engine bots find it insignificant to index and rank such pages. So, rather than having pages that affect your site’s SEO, it is better to remove or fix them.

  • Image Attachment Pages

This issue concerns only the websites which operate on CMS (Content Management System). Sometimes image attachment pages get indexed and ranked by Google; this increases the bounce rate and affects your site’s rankings. You need to take proper precautions so that the bot does not index your image attachment page. 

  • Website Structure & Navigation

A site’s structure is a strong pillar. It can compel the visitor to both stay and leave a website. If your site is easy to navigate and resolves user queries instantly and conveniently, then your visitors are bound to stay. Having a complicated website structure can trouble the users when they try to find solutions to their queries; therefore, they switch to substitutes. This ‘sudden switch’ increases the bounce rate, which results in an abrupt fall in the rankings.

  • Structured Data Markup

By adding the structured data markup in your site’s code, you give Google the authority to represent your website in creative ways in the SERPs. Pages with schema (another name for Structured Data) are more information-rich than standard results in the SERPs. They receive more clicks and better search engine visibility. Pages with schema appear like this in the SERPs:


  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Google recommends websites to use AMP to enhance the user's experience. The purpose of AMP is to boost an entire page's performance by improving its usability and loading speed. You can also build a complete website on AMP, which will be advanced enough to be displayed and operated via both desktop and mobile devices.


You are now aware of what technical SEO is, how it is different (or related) to the other aspects of SEO, and its importance for your website’s SERP rankings. However, this is just some theoretical knowledge; you need to learn how to do technical SEO of your website practically. So, it’s time that you head to the next chapter to help you perform Technical SEO step by step to help you keep your website in pristine SEO health.

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