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What is Technical SEO?

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Technical SEO is not easy, but in this article, we will explain what aspects you should pay attention to on a basic level website that even non-experts will do.

What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to improving the technical aspects of the site in order to increase the ranking of the target pages in search engines. Making a website faster to crawl, easier, and understandable for search engines is the basis of technical optimization.

Why should you technically optimize your site?
Google and other search engines want to provide their users with the best results for their queries. That’s why Google’s bots crawl and evaluate web pages based on a number of factors. Some factors, such as how fast a page loads, depends on the user’s experience. Other factors help search engine bots understand what your pages are about. This is what structured data does, among others. Therefore, by improving the technical aspects, you help search engines crawl and understand your site. If you do this well, you can be rewarded with higher rankings and even rich results.

The opposite is also true: If you make serious technical mistakes on your site, they will return you bad results.

However, it is a wrong idea to just focus on the technical details of a website to please search engines. A website should be fast, clear, and easy to use for your users in the first place. Fortunately, building a strong technical foundation often results in a better experience for both users and search engines.

What are the features of a technically optimized website?
A technically sound website is fast for users and easy to crawl for search engine bots. A proper technical setup helps search engines understand what a site is all about and prevents confusion caused by duplicate content (duplicate content), for example. Moreover, it does not send visitors or search engines to dead ends with broken links. Here, we will briefly dive into some of the key features of a technically optimized website.

1. Website Speed
Web pages need to load fast these days. People are impatient and don’t want to wait for a page to open. Research conducted in 2016 showed that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave the site if a web page is not opened within three seconds. So if your website is slow, people get angry and switch to another website and you miss all that traffic.

Google knows that slow web pages offer less than optimal experience. For this reason, they prefer web pages that load faster. So, a slow web page will go further down in the search results than its faster equivalent, resulting in even less traffic.

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Wondering if your website is fast enough? Read on how to easily test your site speed. Most tests will give you clues on what needs improvement.

2. Easy crawlability for search engines
Search engines use bots to crawl your website. These browser bots follow links to discover content on your site.

But there are more ways to guide bots. For example, if you don’t want them to go there, you can prevent them from browsing certain content. You can also allow them to crawl a page, but tell them not to show that page in search results or follow links on that page.

Robots.txt file
You can give bots instructions on your site using the robots.txt file. It is a powerful tool that should be used carefully. As we mentioned in the beginning, a small error can prevent robots from crawling (important parts) of your site. Sometimes people unintentionally block their site’s CSS and JS files in the robot.txt file. These files contain code that tells browsers how your site should look and how it works. If these files are blocked, search engines cannot find if your site is working properly.

As a result, we recommend that you really research robots.txt if you want to know how it works. Or better yet, let an SEO expert handle it for you!

Meta Tags
Meta tags are a piece of code that you won’t see as a visitor on the page. This is at the top of a page’s source code. Crawl bots read this section when crawling a page. It contains information about what to find on the page or what to do with it.

If you want search engine robots to crawl a page but exclude it from search results for any reason, you can tell them with the robots meta tag. It can also instruct them to crawl a page, with the robots meta tag

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5 Tips to Boost Your Holiday Search Strategy

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With the global economic downturn, inflation, ongoing supply chain challenges, and uncertainty due to the Ukraine war, this year’s holiday shopping season promises to be very challenging. Will people be in the mood to spend despite the gloom? Or will they rein in their enthusiasm and save for the year ahead?

With these issues in mind, here are five considerations to support your search engine optimization strategy this holiday shopping season:

1. Start early.

Rising prices are likely to mean shoppers will start researching their holiday spending earlier than ever to nab the best bargains. Therefore, retailers must roll out their holiday product and category pages — and launch any promotions — sooner to ensure their pages get crawled and indexed by search engines in good time.

Some e-commerce stores manage to get their pages ranking early by updating and reusing the same section of the website for holiday content and promotions, rotating between content for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine gifts, Fourth of July sales, etc. This approach can help you retain the momentum, links and authority you build up with Google and get your holiday pages visible and ranking quickly.

2. Make research an even bigger priority.

With all the uncertainty this year, it’s vital to use SEO research to identify the trending seasonal keywords and search phrases in your retail vertical — and then optimize content accordingly.

With tools such as Google Trends you can extract helpful insights based on the types of searches people are making. For example, with many fashion retailers now charging for product returns, will prioritizing keywords such as “free returns” get more search traction? And with money being tighter, will consumers stick with brands they trust rather than anything new — meaning brand searches might be higher?

3. Make greater use of Google Shopping.

To get the most out of their holiday spending, consumers are more likely to turn to online marketplaces such as Google Shopping as they make it easier to compare products, features and prices, as well as to identify the best deals both online and in nearby stores.

Therefore, take a combined approach which includes listing in Google Shopping and at the same time optimizing product detail pages on your e-commerce site to ensure they’re unique and provide more value than competitors’ pages. Be precise with product names on Google Shopping (e.g., do the names contain the words people are searching for?); ensure you provide all the must-have information Google requires; and set a price that’s not too far from the competition. 

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4. Give other search sources the attention they deserve.

Earlier this year Google itself acknowledged that consumers — especially younger consumers — are starting to use TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites for search. In fact, research suggests 11 percent of product searches now start on TikTok and 15 percent on Instagram. Younger consumers in particular are more engaged by visual content, which may explain why they’re embracing visually focused social sites for search. So, as part of your search strategy, create and share content on popular social media sites that your target customers visit.

Similarly, with people starting their shopping searches on marketplaces such as Amazon.com, optimizing any listings you have on the site should be part of your strategy. And thankfully, the better optimized your product detail pages are for Amazon (with unique, useful content), the better they will rank on Google as well!

5. Hold paid budget for late opportunities.

The greater uncertainty and volatility this holiday season mean you must keep a close eye on shopper behavior and be ready to embrace opportunities that emerge later on. Getting high organic rankings for late promotions is always more challenging, so hold some paid search budget back to help drive traffic to those pages — via Google Ads, for example. Important keywords to include in late season search ad campaigns include “delivery before Christmas” and “same-day-delivery.” For locally targeted search ads, consider “pick up any time before Christmas.”

The prospect of a tough, unpredictable holiday shopping season means search teams must roll out seasonal SEO plans early, closely track shoppers’ behavior, and be ready to adapt as things change.

Marcus Pentzek is chief SEO consultant at Searchmetrics, the global provider of search data, software and consulting solutions.

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