10 months ago
How often did you recommend technical SEO improvements just to see the same mistakes made all over again when new pages or websites were created? At CLICKTRUST, we understand that this can be very frustrating for both SEOs and developers. Moreover, it’s a fact that businesses everywhere are losing precious time and money because of misalignment, caused by a lack of knowledge and understanding of each others’ priorities (Search Engine Journal).
For these reasons and inspired by the recurring issues on the websites of our clients, we decided to create our own checklist focusing on the technical SEO requirements for a new website or webpage. We hope that it can serve as a starting point in communicating priorities to your developer and webmaster teams. However, it’s up to you as a digital marketeer or SEO specialist to give the necessary context and guide your developer team through the process as things are rarely black and white in SEO.
This technical SEO requirements checklist will cover all of the following:
Throughout the checklist, we will try to refer to interesting resources as much as possible, to help you save time. You will also see that some checks are very self-evident, while others are more easily overlooked. Even though this checklist can be a useful tool, we want to point out that it won’t help you set up a well-structured website. Nor will it help you with keyword research or identifying content opportunities.
Finally, we also realize that no website can ever be perfect from the start. For that reason, some checks should get a higher priority than others. To help you, we will point out what is absolutely necessary and what is ‘nice to have’ throughout the list.
We’re often so busy with the latest technical developments that we sometimes forget the very basics of SEO: high-quality content and well-optimized metadata. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to rank in a top 10 position in Google.
Even though content is usually the responsibility of the SEO specialist or content marketeer, there are some things a developer should keep in mind as well. Therefore, we start this checklist with some absolute essentials:
What is a website without a nice layout, images and videos? Nothing. At the same time, these are the things that often slow down your website, ultimately having a negative impact on user experience and conversion rate. To avoid this, we recommend you to follow these technical guidelines:
You can have the best copy and the nicest visuals on your website, but this means nothing if Google can’t crawl your website decently. Or if the website/URL structure is a chaos and canonicals or pagination is implemented incorrectly. Therefore, we recommend you to stick to the following technical SEO best practices. Most of them are absolutely crucial, though a sitemap won’t have that much impact for very small and simple websites.
*You might be confused when it comes to the difference between ‘noindex’ and disallowing a page in the robots.txt file. It works as follows: If you don’t want a page to be crawled, you can ‘disallow’ it. Do keep in mind that disallowing a page won’t necessarily prevent it from being shown in the SERPs. If you want to prevent indexation, whether you want the page to be crawled or not, you should use a ‘noindex’.
We already discussed how to optimize images and videos, but there is more you can do to optimize your loading speed:
Want to know how fast your website is loading? Some of our favourite tools for this are Google PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse and GTmetrix. You definitely want to check out their documentation as well.
Cybersecurity is a major ranking factor as Google wants to protect its users from malware and unscrupulous websites. Not having an SSL certificate might even make users feel uncomfortable and make them want to leave your page as quickly as possible. Google Chrome already shows warnings to users when trying to visit a non-secure HTTP website. Do you really want to miss out on valuable traffic because of this?
If you genuinely care about the security of your website and your customers’ personal data, you need to have the following in place:
Not sure which security headers were implemented on your website? You can easily find out on securityheaders.com.
Hreflang tags are key if you are active in multiple countries and/or languages. Even though the concept of hreflang tags is relatively simple, we often see it being overlooked and a lot of mistakes can happen here. As a result, we regularly see French domains rank above Belgian domains, for example, even for French queries searched for by a Belgian user. If you want to avoid this type of issue, these are the technical requirements you need to follow:
The same requirements apply if you decide to use an hreflang sitemap instead of hreflang tags.
We recommend you to go through our guide on how to combine hreflang tags and canonicals as well.
More than half of the searches worldwide are coming from mobile devices (Think With Google). Google understands this and demotes websites that are not mobile-friendly. If you’re not thinking about mobile SEO yet, it’s time to finally do so and follow these technical guidelines:
Not sure if your page is mobile-friendly? You can easily test this using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Since Google is using mobile-first indexing, it’s no longer enough to just be mobile-friendly though. The search engine is now using the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking, which means that your website also needs to meet the following technical requirements:
The type of schema.org will depend on your industry and the type of website you have. It is definitely not a priority, but there are some types that almost all websites can benefit from, regardless of the industry.
Use ‘Organization‘ schema on the homepage or contact page
Use ‘BreadcrumbList‘ schema on all pages
Use ‘FAQ’ schema on the FAQ page and all pages with FAQ questions
Use ‘Review’ schema on pages with customer reviews
Whatever the schema.org is that you decide to implement in the end, always test your code using a tool such as Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool before implementation.
As performance marketers and SEOs, we like to measure the impact of our actions and campaigns. To make this possible, the following tracking tools should be implemented correctly:
Not sure how SEO can help your company or organization? Need assistance with identifying and solving (technical) SEO issues & opportunities on your website? We are more than happy to help you at CLICKTRUST! Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.