What is Technical SEO? Implement Best Practices for Higher Rankings in 2020

Deepak Choudhary
| | November 21, 2020
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On-page SEO, Off-page SEO and Technical SEO are the three pillars of Search Engine Optimization.

Importance must be given to all the three.

But, quite often, it is seen that website owners don't take Technical SEO too seriously.

Instead, they mostly focus on On-page and Off-page SEO.

Ignoring technical SEO can cause different issues on your site.

Search engines may not crawl, render or index your content properly.

Even if you have written a perfect piece of content, any unresolved technical SEO issue may cause your site to struggle to rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs).

So it's crucial to know what is technical SEO and how to implement all the best practices to optimize your site for technical SEO.

In this article, we will cover:

  • What is Technical SEO?
  • Best practices to implement Technical SEO

Let's get started.

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is entirely different than On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.

Let's look at all the three SEO optimization methods in brief.

On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your site by publishing relevant and high-quality content by doing proper keyword research, optimizing your article headlines, title, meta description, heading tags like H1, H2, H3, and images. 

In short, it is the practice of optimizing web page content for search engines and users.

Off-page SEO, on the other hand, refers to any efforts taken outside of a website to improve its rankings within search engine result pages. It mainly covers building links, branding, social media and local SEO.

Technical SEO is the process of optimizing your website to enable search engines like Google to find, crawl, render and index your content properly.

It is mainly about improving your site structure, speed optimizations, mobile responsiveness, free of duplicate content & broken links, and other stuff that we'll cover in detail in the next section.

Technical SEO Best Practices

Below I have mentioned 11 Best Practices that you can implement right away to fix any Technical SEO issues that your site might have.

Let's check out all the best practices.

1. Check Navigation & Website Structure

An organized website structure is incredibly essential for SEO.

You may be doing everything all right in terms of On-page and Off-page SEO optimization.

But if you have a poorly designed site structure, all your SEO optimization efforts may end up in vain.

It may also create orphan pages (pages with no internal links pointing to them) in your site.

Additionally, search engines may also not be able to crawl and index your content properly.

Thus, having a site structure where all your contents are only a few links away from one another is crucial.

Flat Website Structure

Thus, you must ensure that your website structure and its content are organized in a manner that is easier for your users and Google's bots, to navigate.

Set up site navigation structure for SEO

Your site menu and navigation plays a vital role in arranging your content in a logical manner and improving the overall user experience.

It also improves the SEO performance of your site.

All your important pages, categories must be linked with your top-level navigation. It makes it easier for your visitors to find the content they want and for search engines to crawl.

Thus for greater search visibility and more conversions, ensure that the menu and navigation are linked to all the important pages of your site.

Add Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs give site visitors a secondary means of navigating a website. It helps your users to navigate to higher-level categories more easily.

Since it encourage users to visit more pages of a website before they exit, this lowers your site bounce rate, improving your SEO.

You can easily enable breadcrumbs if you're using YoastSEO or RankMath plugin on your site.

YoastSEO Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs setting in YoastSEO

Rankmath Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs setting in RankMath

2. Specify Preferred Domain

A user can access your website by using both www or non-www version of your site.

This means, if your domain name is example.com, a user can access it by both http://www.example.com and http://example.com (i.e. without the www).

However, search engines can treat your site as two different websites and may cause duplicate content issues along with indexing and crawling errors.

This may also cause a search engine to crawl and index the domain that is not preferred.

That is why it is crucial that when you set up a new website, you should specify your preferred domain version (www or non-www).

What is the benefit of choosing a preferred domain?

  • A preferred domain helps to prevent duplicate content issues.
  • It helps your site to rank better in search results by avoiding indexing or crawling issues and consolidating the link juice.

Which one should you prefer www or non-www?

You're free to choose any version. Yes, there is no SEO advantage in selecting the one version over the other.

Most site visitors prefer to type the URL without the www in a browser. I'm also one of them. So I have set up to use non-www before my domain name, technicalwall.com.

Which version you use depends on your individual preference.

No matter which version you use, you must always use only the preferred version and redirect the other version to the preferred domain.

How to set a preferred domain?

Earlier it was easier to set up a preferred domain from the Google Search Console. However, since 2019 they have removed this feature.

However, you can still set up a preferred domain through a 301 redirect.

You can add 301 redirects to all domains that are not your preferred domain (also known as canonical URLs). It permanently moves a site to your preferred domain.

Following code can be added to your .htaccess file to set up your preferred domain. You can find the .htaccess file under public_html folder in File Manager under your cPanel.

301 redirect to setup preferred domain

301 redirect from www to non-www

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} www.example.com

RewriteRule (.*) http://example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

301 redirect from non-www to www

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.%{HTTP_HOST}/$1 [R=301,L]

3. Create an XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap contains all important contents of your website. Having a sitemap on your site helps search engine like Google to find, crawl and index all the essential website pages.

If you're not having an XML sitemap for your site, Google may not be able to find all the webpages, especially the orphan pages.

Orphan pages are pages that are not internally linked with any other pages of your site. Google may not be able to find all your orphan pages.

Thus if you want search engines to find all your important post or pages including orphan pages, you must consider creating an XML sitemap.

How to create XML sitemap?

There are many online tools that can help you generate an XML sitemap for your site. Refer tools like https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ or https://www.mysitemapgenerator.com/ to create a sitemap.

However, these tools works great only for smaller sites that are not updated frequently.

For sites that are regularly updated with new content, you will need to regenerate and upload your updated sitemap.

So if you have a site that publishes content quite frequently, you can use RankMath or YoastSEO plugins to generate a sitemap for your WordPress site.

RankMath Sitemap Setting

The sitemap generated by these plugins are dynamic which means that it gets updated automatically whenever you add new content on your site.

How to submit a sitemap to Google?

After creating your sitemap, you can submit that to Google through Google Search Console.


Go to Console >> Sitemaps, enter your sitemap URL as shown in the picture below and click on Submit. That's it.

Submit Sitemap to Google

4. Optimize Robots.txt File

So far we have set up the preferred domain for your site and also created a sitemap.

In this step, we will optimize robots.txt file to ensure that it doesn't contain any rules that are preventing search engine crawlers from indexing your website.

Robots.txt file is normally created to tell search engine crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can't request from your site.

A robots.txt file lives at the root (main folder, mainly public_html) of your site. So, for a site www.example.com, the robots.txt file lives at www.example.com/robots.txt.

Thus you can check your robots.txt by entering the following URL in a browser:

https://yourdomainname.com/robots.txt

Not having a robots.txt will allow search engines to crawl every pages and files of your site.

Search engines have crawl limits. If your site is big you may want to save your crawl budget so that search engines may crawl and index only the important content of your site.

To prevent search engines from crawling and indexing non-essential pages, you can easily set it up by adding specific codes in robots.txt.

For example, you can add the following codes in your robots.txt file that will allow search engines to crawl and index all your content except the wp-admin and your affiliate links (/recommends/).

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin/

Disallow: /recommends/


Sitemap: https://www.yourdomainname.com/post-sitemap.xml

You can also add URL of your sitemap in robots.txt file. It will ensure that search engine bots would be able to crawl and index all the important contents of your site.

The robots.txt Tester tool by Google tells you whether your robots.txt file blocks Google web crawlers from specific URLs on your site or not.

5. Use HTTPS

HTTPS uses the SSL/TLS protocol to encrypt communications so that attackers can't steal data.

A website that has enabled HTTPS with an SSL certificate has https:// in the beginning of its URL instead of http://.

Why should you use HTTPS on your website?

Reason No. 1

According to Google (2014), websites that move towards HTTPS from HTTP would get a small ranking benefit.


Their study also suggested that the HTTPS signal showed "positive results" in terms of relevancy and ranking in Google's search results.

Reason No. 2

If HTTPS is not enabled on your site, browsers like Google Chrome will mark it as "not secure".


This notification appears for all websites without a valid SSL certificate. This may badly affect users experience on your site and may also increase the bounce rate of your site.

Reason No. 3

When you enter the URL of a website that has an SSL certificate installed, you can see a padlock sign that gives your user a sign of trust that any information entered by a user on your website is safe and secure.

Padlock Sign

Reason No. 4

SSL certificate is a must for websites that accepts payments from your users in the form of credit card or bank account information.


It helps to encrypt all the payment information and login credential that a user enters on your website to make any purchase.


Without an SSL certificate installed on your site, hackers may steal sensitive information such as credit card and bank account details as well as your users login id and passwords.

Reason No. 5

Earlier, the cost of an SSL certificate was high and only the big site owners were seen to have this enabled on their sites.


With time, the cost of SSL certificate has reduced significantly. Many popular hosting companies like GreenGeeks and others provide free SSL certificate when you buy hosting from them.


Popular Content Delivery Networks like Cloudflare, and BunnyCDN also provide free SSL certificate.

6. Redirect HTTP to HTTPS

If your users can visit a non-secure version of your website with HTTP, then there is no point in having HTTPS enabled on your site.

So how do you check whether your site can be accessible with HTTP?

Enter the URL of your domain with HTTP in a browser. If the browser redirects you automatically to HTTPS and you also see the padlock sign, then everything seems fine.

However, if that is not the case, then you need to redirect HTTP to HTTPs.

You can implement any of the following two methods to achieve this.

METHOD 1

Add the following code to your .htaccess file. You can find this file in public_html folder in File Manager.

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

METHOD 2

Follow the below steps to redirect your site from HTTP to HTTPS:

  1. Log into your WordPress Dashboard.
  2. Select Settings on the left navigation panel, then click General.
  3. Under WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL), update your URLs to include https instead of http.
WordPress Settings Redirect HTTP to HTTPS

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes. That's it.

7. Check Mobile Responsiveness

mobile-friendly (or mobile responsive) website is one that displays the same content across different devices to its users.

Having a mobile-friendly site has become more important than ever. Look at the following stats.

  • More than 50% of all the users worldwide that browse the internet are coming from mobile devices.
  • A website that is not mobile-friendly can be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. It may cause a frustrating experience to your site visitors and may result in a higher bounce rate of your site.
  • Google now predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking, which is also known as Mobile-first indexing. This means if your site is not mobile-friendly, then it may not rank higher on search results.

How to check whether your site is mobile-friendly or not?

Following are the online tools that can help you check whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

  • Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool - Enter our domain URL into the search box and select the Test URL. Within a few seconds, it will tell you whether or not your website is mobile-friendly. The tool also gives suggestions on how to make the mobile experience better. 
  • Bing Mobile-Friendly Test Tool - Like Google, this tool from Bing also quickly analyzes your domain to check whether it is mobile-friendly or not. It also gives a list of recommendations, if a site is not found mobile-friendly.

Following are the results of this blog, Technicalwall.com, when checked on the above two tools for mobile-friendliness.

Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool

Google mobile-friendly test tool result

Bing Mobile Friendly Test Tool

Bing mobile-friendly test tool

What to do if your website doesn't pass the mobile-friendly test?

If your WordPress website is not mobile-friendly, then the first thing that you could consider implementing is to replace your theme with a popular responsive theme.

Google has also recommended using a responsive design for a website. A responsive website allows your mobile visitors to access the same content as accessed by desktop users.

GeneratePress and Astra are the two themes that I like the most as they both are mobile-responsive and also SEO-optimized.

Premium GeneratePress
Astra WordPress Theme

Thus, the easiest way to make your site mobile-friendly is to use a premium WordPress theme like GeneratePress and Astra.

Check for Mobile Usability Issues

Even if your site is mobile-friendly, your site can have mobile usability issues that are hard to find out.

However, with Google Search Console's Mobile Usability report, you can easily find out whether your site has any of these issues.

Just log in to your GSE account and head over to Mobile Usability. If there are issues with any of your web pages, it will be shown right there.

Google Console Mobile Usability Issue

Apart from mobile usability errors, Google also shows up the exact details that are causing errors. You need to check these details one by one to fix all the errors.

Google Search Console Mobile Usability Issue Details

8. Check Website Speed

Among Google's 200 ranking factor, the speed of a website is one of the most important factors.

Speed is now used as a ranking factor for mobile searches too.

Since 2010, speed of desktop searches was a ranking factor. In 2018, Google made the speed of a web page a ranking factor for mobile searches too.

We're in 2020, and more than 50% of all searches on the internet are done on mobile devices.

Considering these factors, you must optimize your website to improve the loading speed of your site.

Before I tell you about some important speed optimization tips, here are some online tools that you can use to test your website loading speed.

These three tools are enough to measure how your website is in terms of speed.

Anything above 3 seconds should be a reason to worry.

How to improve a website loading speed?

So here are some of the tips that you may consider to speed up your website loading speed.

By the way, I am using WP Rocket to achieve all the optimization method mentioned below. Please take a look at the loading speed of my blog after adding the WP Rocket plugin.

GTMetrix Speed Test After Installing WP Rocket

GTMetrix speed test result

Pingdom Speed Test After Installing WP Rocket

Pingdom speed test result

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The best premium caching plugin for WordPress website

Here are some of the optimization techniques that will likely improve your website loading speed with minimum effort from your side.


Use a CDN


A CDN stores a cached version of your site content in multiple geographical locations.


This helps a CDN to serve the website content from a server that is nearest to the requesting user.


One can use the free plan of Cloudflare to speed up their site. 


I use BunnyCDN on my site and it has boosted my website speed tremendously. It is the cheaper and the best alternative to the paid plan of Cloudflare, KeyCND and others.


Apart from being cheap, BunnyCDN also has a 14-days free trial. Avail the free trial to see significant improvement in your website loading speed.

Use a Caching Plugin 


A caching plugin stores your website files temporarily so that they can be delivered to your visitors faster and more efficiently.


Caching is important because it reduces the load on your WordPress hosting servers and makes your website run faster. 


WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache are two good options to speed up your site.

Use Minification

Minification does things like removing whitespace, removing comments, removing non-required semicolons, reducing hex code lengths to minimize the file size.

You can increase your website loading speed significantly by minifying your site's CSS, HTML, and Javascript files.

Thus, you can use minification on your site to reduce load times and bandwidth usage. Once you set it up, it improves your website speed and accessibility instantly, providing a better user experience to your site visitors.

How to implement Minification?

If your site is on WordPress, plugins like WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache and WPAutoptimize can do this for you quite easily.

In WP Rocket, go to File Optimization tab, and select Minify HTML, Minify CSS files and Minify Javascript files.

WP Rocket File Optimization Features

Use Gzipping

Bigger web pages take time to load. You can use GZip to compress your website page. It is a simple and effective way to save bandwidth and to speed up your site.

To enable Gzip compression in Apache server, you have to add the following code in your .htaccess file (source: GTmetrix.com).

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
# Compress HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Text, XML and fonts
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml

# Remove browser bugs (only needed for really old browsers)
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
Header append Vary User-Agent
</IfModule>

Compress Images

Images can cause serious impact on your website loading speed. 

If there are images in your blog content that is not compressed, then start doing it right today.

Compressing an image reduces their file size considerably and minimize the strain on your site load time.

Start using plugins like ShortPixel to compress your images.

For more useful tips on optimizing your website loading speed, visit the link given below.

9. Optimize Website URL

Optimizing your website URL is an important aspect of technical SEO.

URLs provide information to your users and search engines about the content of a webpage, its context and its target audience.

Users read URLs before clicking on them. An optimized URL improved user experience by making it clear what they'll see if they click the link.

A properly optimized URL should look like this-

https://technicalwall.com/seo/technical-seo/

Please take a look at the following URL optimization tips to understand why I am considering the above URL as an optimized one.

How to optimize your URLs?

Tip 1

Keep your URL simple, short, relevant and accurate. Search engines better understand this type of URL and rank it higher on search results.

Tip 2

Include target keywords in the URL. By seeing only the URL, your users and search engines should get an idea about the content on the page. Keywords in a URL may increase the webpage ranking in search results for your target keywords.

Tip 3

Do not use underscores and spaces in your URL. Google robots can read hyphens. So when necessary uses hyphens instead of underscores to separate your words in the URL.

Tip 4

Always use lowercase letters. Uppercase letters in a URL can cause issues with duplicate pages. For  example, technicalwall.com/Blog & technicalwall.com/blog might create issues with duplicate content.

10. Check Canonical URLs

Checking canonical URLs, is in fact, a part of optimizing your website URL that we covered above in Point 9.

Your website may have some content that can be found at different URLs.

Search engines may get confused when different URLs point to the same content or webpage. This may impact your site in terms of SEO.

To avoid this technical SEO issue, Canonical URLs are used to tell search engines which URL you want your users to see in search results.

What is a Canonical URL?

A canonical URL (also known as a canonical tag) refers to an HTML link tags with the attribute rel="canonical", found in the <head> tag of a webpage.

<link rel="canonical" href="https://technicalwall.com/seo/technicalseo/" />

By specifying the "canonical URL", you can tell search engines the "preferred" version of your web page. The search engine now knows which version of your webpage is canonical, and can count all the backlinks pointing at the different versions as links to the canonical version.

This not only helps to sort out duplicate content problems but also improves the SEO of your site. 

How to set up canonical URLs?

Let say you have two URLs that have the same content.

https://example.com/backup-plugins/

https://example.com/plugins/backup/


Before setting up a canonical URL, identify the URL you want to keep as your preferred version.

Suppose you want https://example.com/plugins/backup/ to be the canonical URL. 

To indicate this URL as canonical, mark the duplicate page - https://example.com/backup-plugins/ with a rel="canonical" link tag.

In the <head> tag of the duplicate page, add the following code:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/backup-plugins/" />

That's it. You have successful added the canonical URL for the duplicate page.

For more information, refer this source from Google.

11. Check Server Response Time

Your site server response time can severely impact your users' experience.

Studies revealed that 40% of website visitors abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

What is a Server Response Time?

Server response time, measured in TTFB (Time to First Byte), is the amount of time required to load the HTML document of a website from a server so that the client can begin rendering the page.

Without a good server response time, the HTML document will take longer to load. If the HTML document isn't loaded, that means the browser won't know what other resources will be required in order to display the page properly.

What is a Good Server Response Time?

Google and other speed test tools, such as GTmetrix or Pingdom, you should keep your server response time under 200ms.

Anything above this will result in loss of customers, business and money.

How to improver server response time?

  • Choose the right Web Host: If you're experiencing low server response time, you may consider changing web hosting provider.
  • Upgrade from Shared Hosting: In shared hosting, your website share resources provided by your web host with other sites. This could impact your server response time. You may want to upgrade from shared hosting to VPS or Dedicated hosting plan.
  • Eliminate Bloat: Unused plugins and themes, uncompressed images are unnecessary bloats that can consume much of your server's resources and slow down your site. Try removing unused plugins & themes. Use plugins like ShortPixel to compress all images on your site.
  • Use Caching Plugin: Cache plugin helps to improve the SEO and user experience of your site by increasing website performance and reducing load times by leveraging features like content delivery network (CDN) integration and the latest best practices. Plugins like WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache can bring significant performance improvement.
  • Use a CDN: BunnyCDN and Cloudflare are the content delivery networks that you can use to improve server response time of your site. It reduces the physical distance between the server and your users and thereby speed up your website by loading content from a server nearest to your user.

Useful resources: Try tools like Varvy, GTMetrix, Pingdom and Google Pagespeed insights to measure your server resource time and page speed performances. These tools also provides tips and recommendation to fix any performance issues.

Wrapping Up

I hope by now you have a clear understanding of what is technical SEO and how you can fix technical SEO issues on your site.

Which Technical SEO tips helped you a lot? Let me know in the comment section.

Sharing is Caring! If you like this article, please take a moment to share it on social channels.

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    • Deepak Choudhary Deepak Choudhary says:

      Thanks Alex

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