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The Idiot’s Guide to Technical SEO

Updated January 5, 2017
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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

You might be thinking to yourself – I want to learn technical SEO, but damn dude, I don’t have 4 hours to do research online.

Well – here I am, to the rescue.

I’ve boiled down some key keys of technical SEO into 4 minutes of blog reading glory – so you don’t have to do 4 hours of research to get at least the main concepts. 

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The basic components of Technical SEO boil down to these general categories:

1. Making sure you have a relatively low page speed / load time

2. Mobile friendliness – responsive design

3. Having a well structured site and serving it up with a sitemap

4. Having a clear and simple site structure through categories / content silo’s

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5. Fixing any crawl errors you can find through Google’s search console

6. Use the correct redirect types when you move a page or post / or change a title

7. Find where your site has 404’s and fix them

8. Get rid of thin or duplicate content

9. Describe the data on your site with Schema markup when appropriate


Deeper intro to these keys to Technical SEO

1. Some keys to having a low page speed / load time

One of my favorite tools to assess page load time, diagnose issues so that I can fix them is the Pingdom Website Speed Test – throw your website in here and go down one by one fixing the problems it tells you your site has. This way you can dramatically speed up your site.

Usually it will need a combination of these action items:

  • Test whether or not you have enabled Gzip Compression enabled
  • If you haven’t enabled it yet you can add this code in an .htaccess file in your root directory – this article also outlines doing this on apache and nginx webservers.
  • Combine any JS and CSS files that can be combined.
  • Disable any plugins, modules or addons that you aren’t using.
  • Optimize your images using ‘save for web’ in photoshop or smush.it: WordPress version here
  • Cache the shit out of the site. My favorite plugin for this on WordPress is WP Rocket
  • Don’t push out too many 301 redirects on the site. Minimize these as much as possible
  • Popular site that still has speed problems? Consider using a CDN like Amazon Cloudfont.

2. Main components of having a mobile friendly / responsive site.

Mobile friendly means a couple key things:

  • Your website is either serving a mobile version for phone and tablet visitors or…
  • The site is using ‘Media queries’ to shape and re-arrange the site when the screen is smaller or a visitor is on mobile devices. (Google’s current preferred solution.)
  • You also need to have <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″> in the head of your document for responsive design to work.
  • Buttons are above 45px by 45px in size and are therefore tappable.
  • Clickable text links are not crazy small or crowded, thus people can tap them on their mobile device without tiny fingers.
  • You’ll likely want a mobile collapsible version of your navigation so the design is still clean and user friendly.

3. How to make sure your site is structured well and that you’ve connected a sitemap

4. Categorizing and siloing your site

  • If you have categories of things like “portfolio”, “services”, product categories, or other ways of organizing items – Use /portfolio/item in your URL structure so that Google can very clearly recognize the organization of the items.
  • If it makes sense for usability, siloing – meaning only allowing access to a category of pages within that category, can help make that particular taxonomy or ‘silo’ rank better for that subject / subset of topics and items.

5. How to fix crawl errors with Google search console

  • Go to Google Search Console > Crawl > Crawl Errors to see if you have them.
  • Mark them all as fixed (may seem silly but, many of these may be very old and irrelevant, this is effectively a reset to find more recent crawl errors)
  • Check them once a week
  • You can fix 404 errors from people linking incorrectly to your site simply by creating a 301 redirect from the false page to the real page, same with internal links. Check out other common solutions to crawl errors here. 

6. A couple strategies for using correct redirect types

  • 301 is the most common type of redirect and means that the new page is the correct and new version, and to no longer regard the old page with any authority. This will pass 90-99% of the link juice to the new page. Meaning – it’s not as good as simply keeping the old URL – but…. it’ll do.
  • A great WordPress plugin for Redirects is Eggplant 301 Redirects and otherwise you can use the old fashion way explained here.

7. Find 404’s and fix them with these tactics

8. How to find and get rid of thin and duplicate content

  • Identify pages with thin content with a tool like Google Panda Helper (you’ll need to enter your pages separately)
  • Make your posts or pages with thin content beefier – the most complete answer around
  • Remove or de-index any pages (or post types) that are causing the issue.
  • Combine short posts that all talk around one subject
  • Use Canonical URL’s to direct to the actual posts when appropriate
  • Be sure that you’re not committing common mistakes like taking and copying / pasting manufacturers information on Ecommerce sites

9. Best ways to implement Schema simply and effectively


That’s it – you literally can now implement onsite technical SEO!

If those don’t keep you busy enough – come back soon for the Idiot’s Guide to MORE ADVANCED Technical SEO. 🙂

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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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