Technical SEO, as we’ve already discussed, is a discipline within SEO that looks at optimising the website’s code for optimum performance.
It covers a plethora of sub-disciplines, including:
- Site migration
- Site architecture
- Site speed
- Crawl error fixing (for example, those pesky 404 errors you sometimes end up on)
- Site security
- Structured Data implementation
But how does addressing such issues affect the bottom line? Will it make any difference whatsoever to your sales or lead generation, and will improving these things have any impact on conversion rates?
Well, quite a lot actually!
The first thing to consider and bear in mind is that tech SEO takes time and investment. You will have to have budget available for any issues we find on the site from a technical SEO audit. The majority of the things we find will need to be addressed by a developer. And some will need a developer to investigate even further to find the best solution for your site – and usually the developer who worked on the site initially is the best person to do this work. Why? Because they know the code better than we do. They may even have an understanding of why certain things are the way they are. For example, your developer may have had to make compromises along the way, either to meet deadlines or for other reasons, and knowing this can often mean they are in the best position to make changes to the site efficiently.
How technical SEO will impact conversions is likely to be a gradual process. It is very unlikely that your developer will be able to fix everything, all in one go. They will more likely make updates gradually to fix the issues uncovered in an audit. This can make it quite difficult to determine the impact. However, there are some things that will have a greater impact than others, and these we would always suggest are tackled first.
‘What are these things?’ I hear you ask…
Well, if you can only address a few issues, I would always suggest starting with site speed.
Site speed is such an important thing to get right. We have all been made annoyed by slow loading sites, and when your potential customer is ‘annoyed’, they are less likely to convert. How does site speed impact SEO, though?
Site speed is a ranking factor and has been for a long time now. If your pages load more slowly than your competitors’ pages, then, unless your competitors have been engaging in dodgy link building or have done something else to infuriate the algorithm, then Google will put their page higher up in the ranks than yours. Why? Because a faster loading page offers a better user experience than a slower loading one.
When a website ranks higher up the SERP, it will get more clicks, and more clicks means more visitors, and more visitors usually means more conversions.
Simply speeding up the loading of pages can make a significant difference to conversion.
Again, if you only have a limited budget, I would suggest looking at fixing any crawl errors as well. When a search engine spider (AKA Robot or Crawler) encounters an erroring page (e.g. a 404 error), it’s like a dead-end for them. It means they have to go back and that the crawl is not efficient for the search engine. If they come back and find the same errors or even more errors next time, then they may ‘decide’ not to come back for a while. The more frequently the search engines crawl your site, the better. It means that any new content you’ve created will be crawled more quickly, meaning that it will be indexed more quickly, and therefore be eligible for organic search traffic to land on it, more quickly. Actually, I often look at Search Console just to see when pages were last crawled, as this can give me an overview of the health of a site.
What can you expect from a Technical SEO audit?
When we do technical SEO audits, we are generally looking for anything that may be preventing your website from reaching its full potential. We will start by crawling your website with site crawling software, we generally use two crawling tools, these are:
- Screaming Frog
Both tools are fantastic and provide a lot of helpful information for us to provide the data and information required to get these things fixed. We will also use Analytics tools (most of our clients use Google Analytics) and Google Search Console. Search Console is a great place to look to discover the issues on your site that Google has found.
What we will deliver to you is a write-up of the issues we’ve found and data sheets for your developers to work from. It is our intention to provide everything the developer will need to make the fixes, but sometimes they require additional data or information, which we would then provide to them individually if they need it, and if we have it.
We will prioritise the tasks to fix the issues within the audit so that your developers will know what to address first (though we are flexible on this, as sometimes it’s more efficient to fix some issues together even if some are lower priority, and this is often best advised by the developer). The prioritisation is determined by how much we expect fixing the issue will impact the site, and how difficult it will be to make the fix.
How to determine if the fixes are a success
As I have already said, the impact of fixing technical issues can be difficult to pinpoint, and often this is due to factors outside of our control – for example, we have had situations where the client was unaware that they would need a development budget to get the fixes implemented. This has meant that getting the fixes done can take a long time. However, generally, once all the fixes have been implemented, you will start to see an uplift in traffic.
The screenshot above shows Organic traffic increasing after an SEO audit. The next one (below) shows the increase in impressions after the technical fixes were made. What a lovely incline that is!
By making incremental improvements to the site, we can see the impact over time. Impressions increased, likely due to more pages in the index with more keywords ranking. This translated into more traffic to the website, and ultimately, more sales from organic search.
Technical SEO is just the foundation though. Fixing errors and addressing slow loading pages or issues with accessibility or site security will definitely help your site to rank better. But it will always work best alongside on-page and off-page SEO. To get the best out of SEO, I always say get the foundations right, then you can build up, safe in the knowledge that it is unlikely your site will ‘fall down’ due to ‘dodgy foundations’. However, as I’ve already said, fixing technical issues can take time, and if the client hasn’t allocated enough budget for the development fixes or their developer hasn’t got capacity to perform the fixes straight away, then the process can drag out. When this happens, we will move on to other areas of the SEO plan for the client – e.g. looking at on-page SEO to improve individual keyword rankings. This can cloud the data once the technical fixes get underway, but if all our efforts are increasing traffic and conversions, we’re all on to a winner. Usually, when technical fixes are put live and discovered by Google, the entire site can get a boost. Adding in off-site and on-site SEO is likely to help increase traffic and conversions even further.
If you are curious about your website’s technical foundations and would like us to audit your website for technical SEO, then get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.