What is Technical SEO ?
technical SEO is the process of optimizing
your website to help search engines find,
understand, and index your pages.
Now, for beginners, technical SEO
doesn’t need to be all that technical.
And for that reason, this module will be
focused on the basics so you can perform
regular maintenance on your site and ensure
that your pages can be discovered and indexed
by search engines.
Let’s get started.
Alright, so let’s talk about why technical
SEO is important at the core.
Basically, if search engines can’t properly
access, read, understand, or index your pages,
then you won’t rank or even be found
for that matter.
So to avoid innocent mistakes like
removing yourself from Google’s index
or diluting a page’s backlinks, I want to discuss
4 things that should help you avoid that.
First is the noindex meta tag.
By adding this piece of code to your page,
it’s telling search engines not to add it to
And you probably don’t want to do that.
And this actually happens more
often than you might think.
For example, let’s say you hire Design Inc
to create or redesign a website for you.
During the development phase, they may
create it on a subdomain on their own site.
So it actually makes sense for them to
noindex the site they’re working on.
But what often happens is after you’ve
approved the design, they’ll migrate it
over to your domain.
But they often forget to remove
the meta noindex tag.
And as a result, your pages end up getting
removed from Google’s search index or never
making it in.
Now, there are times when it actually
makes sense to noindex certain pages.
For example, our authors pages are noindexed
because from an SEO perspective, these pages
provide very little value to search engines.
But from a user experience standpoint, it can
be argued that it makes sense to be there.
Some people may have their favorite authors
on a blog and want to read just their content.
Generally speaking, for small sites, you won’t
need to worry about noindexing specific pages.
Just keep your eye out for noindex tags on
your pages, especially if after a redesign.
The second point of discussion is robots.txt.
Robots.txt is a file that usually lives
on your root domain.
And you should be able to access
it at yourdomain.com/robots.txt.
Now, the file itself includes a set of rules
for search engine crawlers and tells them
where they can and cannot go on your site.
And it’s important to note that a website
can have multiple robots files if you’re
For example, if you have a blog on domain.com,
then you’d have a robot.txt file for just
the root domain.
But you might also have an ecommerce
store that lives on store.domain.com.
So you could have a separate
robots file for your online store.
That means that crawlers could be given
two different sets of rules depending on
the domain they’re trying to crawl.
Now, the rules are created using
something called “directives.”
And while you probably don’t need to know
what all of them are or what they do, there
are two that you should know about
from an indexing standpoint.
The first is User-agent, which defines
the crawler that the rule applies to.
And the value for this directive would
be the name of the crawler.
For example, Google’s user-agent is
And the second directive is Disallow.
This is a page or directory on your domain
that you don’t want the user-agent to crawl.
For example, if you set the user agent to
Googlebot and the disallow value to a slash,
you’re telling Google not to crawl
any pages on your site.
Now, if you were to set the user-agent to
an asterisk, that means your rule should
apply to all crawlers.
So if your robots file looks something like
this, then it’s telling all crawlers, please
don’t crawl any pages on my site.
While this might sound like something you
would never use, there are times when it
makes sense to block certain parts of
your site or to block certain crawlers.
For example, if you have a WordPress
website and you don’t want your wp-admin
folder to be crawled, then you can simply
set the user agent to “All crawlers,” and set
the disallow value to /wp-admin/.
Now, if you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t
worry too much about your robots file.
But if you run into any indexing issues that
need to be troubleshooted, robots.txt is one
of the first places I’d check.
Alright, the next thing to discuss are sitemaps.
Sitemaps are usually XML files and they
list the important URLs on your website.
So these can be pages, images, videos,
and other files.
And sitemaps help search engines like
Google to more intelligently crawl your site.
Now, creating an XML file can be complicated
if you don’t know how to code and it’s almost
impossible to maintain manually.
But if you’re using a CMS like WordPress,
there are plugins like Yoast and Rank Math
which will automatically generate
sitemaps for you.
To help search engines find your sitemaps, you
can use the Sitemap directive in your robots file
and also submit it in Google search console.
Next up are redirects.
A redirect takes visitors and bots
from one URL to another.
And their purpose is to consolidate signals.
For example, let’s say you have two pages
on your website on the best golf balls.
An old one at domain.com/best-golf-balls-2018,
and another at domain.com/best-golf-balls.
Seeing as these are highly relevant to one
another, it would make sense to redirect
the 2018 version to the current version.
And by consolidating these pages, you’re
telling search engines to pass the signals
from the redirected URL to the destination URL.
And the last point I want to talk about
is the canonical tag.
A canonical tag is a snippet of
HTML code that looks like this.
Its purpose is to tell search engines
what the preferred URL is for a page.
And this helps to solve duplicate content issues.
For example, let’s say your website is
accessible at both http://yourdomain.com
And for whatever reason, you weren’t
able to use a redirect.
These would be exact duplicates.
But by setting a canonical URL, you’re telling
search engines that there’s a preferred version
of the page.
As a result, they’ll pass signals such as
links to the canonical URL so they’re not
diluted across two different pages.
Now, it’s important to note that Google
may choose to ignore your canonical tag.
Looking back at the previous example, if we set
the canonical tag to the insecure HTTP page,
Google would probably choose the
secure HTTPS version instead.
Now, if you’re running a simple WordPress site,
you shouldn’t have to worry about this too much.
CMS’s are pretty good out of the box
and will handle a lot of these basic
technical issues for you.
So these are some of the foundational things
that are good to know when it comes to indexing,
which is arguably the most important
part in SEO.
Because again, if your pages aren’t getting
indexed, nothing else really matters.
Now, we won’t really dig deeper into this
because you’ll probably only have to worry
about indexing issues if and when
you run into problems.
Instead, we’ll be focusing on technical SEO best
practices to keep your website in good health.