A Complete Guide to Technical SEO: How Search Engines Serve Your Request Despite Not Knowing Your Language

17-Mar-2020 05:19 PM Digital Marketing

You have created valuable content with the keywords you researched. You did so because you know that it has to be readable by humans and search engines. Read further if you would like to know how search engines work and how they treat those keywords. Understanding technical optimization for SEO is essential to ensure that your web pages are structured for humans and search engine spiders.

How Websites Work

First, let us talk about the journey of a website from purchasing a domain to the fully rendered state of a website.

Domain name is registered: At this stage, you register and purchase a domain name like iverbinden.com from registrars like BigRock and GoDaddy. These organizations manage domain names and reservations.

Domain is linked to IP address: The domain names like iverbinden.com are for us humans. However, the internet does not understand this without the domain name servers (DNS). A series of numbers called Internet Protocol (IP) address requests for the domain. DNS is used to link human-readable names with machine-readable names.

Before knowing how websites work, let us understand what it is made of. It is created using programming languages. The three most common programming languages are:

  • HTML: The content of the website or the message a website is serving to you

  • CSS: This beautifies the website that includes the colors, fonts, etc.

  • JavaScript: This determines how a website behaves. It is used to design interactivity.

There are other programming languages, but HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the most common. While JavaScript is used to create action inside a website, HTML and CSS is the basic structure and how it appears, respectively.

How Does a Browser Request For a Website From a Server

  1. People request for a website through the browser or click on a link.

  2. The web page prompts the browser to make DNS lookup request to convert the domain name to its IP address. Then the browser requests the server for the code of your web pages created using different programming languages.

  3. After the request is received, the server sends the files to assemble in the browser.

  4. The browser assembles the files in the browser. It creates a Document Object Model (DOM) where all web page resources are organized. To see the DOM, right click and ‘inspect element.’

  5. The browser makes a final request to send all the necessary code to show your website.

  6. In this stage, your website is rendered from code to what you see.

Please note that Google will look at websites without Javascript first. It looks at Javascript on a ‘second pass’. This means that the SEO-critical elements added to JavaScript may not be indexed the first time. It will take a considerable amount of time for Google crawlers to index your website the next time.

How Search Engines Understand Websites

How does a search engine identify an author, the ingredients, or the method on a 10,000-word article about baking a cake? Ask schema markup.

Schema is a way to organize content so that search engines have a better understanding of certain elements of the page. It allows you to spoon-feed to search engines, the type of information on your page.

The code provides structure to your data, which is why schema is also called structured data. The structuring process is also referred to as markup because you are marking up your content with organizational code.

Schema markup JSON-LD is preferred by Google and supported by Microsoft’s Bing. View Google Developers Introduction to Structured Data to find information on implementing structured data. Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to test your markup.

Schema markup can also enable some special features to accompany your pages in SERPs known as ‘rich snippets’. They are things like:

  • Top stories

  • Review

  • Sitelinks search boxes

  • Recipes

Points to Remember for Success with Schema

  • Multiple types of schema can be used on a page. However, if you have many products on a page, you must markup all those products.

  • Avoid marking up content that is not visible to visitors. If you add review structured markup to a page, you must have reviews in that page visible.

  • Even duplicate pages must be marked up with your structured markup, not just the canonical version.

  • Structured markup should be an accurate reflection of your page.

  • Provide updated and original content on your structured data pages.

  • Try to use the most specific type of schema markup of your content.

How to Tell Search Engines to Crawl Preferred Pages

rel=’canonical’ tag was invented to tell Google which web pages to index (if you have the same content on multiple pages). It tells search engine where the original version of a piece of content is located. The page on which the rel=canonical tag appears will be treated as a duplicate.

So when republishing a piece of content, the same copy or a slightly modified one, but you do not want Google to crawl it, canonical tag can tell it to not look at the web page. We have already learned that Google likes unique and valuable content, that is not copied from elsewhere and repeated across multiple pages.

Google search rarely shows multiple versions of the same content. It instead shows only the canonicalized version, or if a canonical tag does not exist, whichever is deemed the original. Now we know that canonicalization ensures that every unique piece of content on your website has only one URL.

Without the canonical tag, it may create duplicates. However, ecommerce sites may have multiple duplicate pages due to sort and filter options. ‘Faceted navigation’ allows visitors to narrow down products to find exactly what they’re looking for, such as a ‘sort by’ feature that reorders results on the product category page from lowest to highest price. This could create variations in the main product category,

Also read this to know different types of duplicate content.

How Users Interact With Websites

We have SEO to serve searchers with whatever they are searching. Google algorithm rewards websites that provide the best experience for searchers, and some websites, despite having good SEO qualities might not perform well in search. Over half of web traffic comes from mobile devices. Google rolled out an update that would promote mobile-friendly pages over non-mobile-friendly pages. Let us see the ways to configure websites for mobile.

Mobile-first Indexing

Google started switching websites to mobile-first indexing in 2018. With this, Google crawls and indexes the mobile version of your web pages. Though making websites compatible with mobile screens is good for users and preferences in search, mobile-first indexing happens independently of mobile-friendliness. There are concerns for websites lacking parity between and mobile and desktop versions, like showing different links, content, and navigation on mobile view.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated Mobile Pages delivers content to mobile users much faster. The reason it can deliver fast is because it delivers from its cache severs and uses a special AMP version of HTML and JavaScript. Read more here.

Responsive Design

Of all the three ways to configure a website for mobile, responsive is the recommended way. This is designed to fit whatever the screen size is. Use Google’s tool to check if your website is mobile-friendly or not.

Responsive design is ideal because readers need not pinch the mobile screen out and in to view content. See how it renders both on mobile and on desktop.

Elements of a Good Website Experience

You have now figured out how your browser and search engines serve websites to viewers. Now we have to learn about another two important elements of a good website experience. Page speed and images are those two important elements.

Improving Page Speed

Google likes fast loading websites. So do people for whom you write content for. They will definitely go back to the search engine results page in search of a faster page. Fortunately, there are tools to check the speed of your website and how to make them faster.

Making Images Load Faster

Images make your web pages heavy. In addition to image compression, optimizing image alt text, submitting image sitemaps, etc. there are technical ways to speed up and show images.

SRCSET

SRCSET delivers the best image size for each device. It allows multiple versions of your image and the specify which version to be used in different situations. This piece of code is added to the <img> tag in HTML to provide unique images for specific-sized devices.

Lazy Loading

Lazy loading occurs when you go to a webpage and you will see a blank space for where the image will be. A colored box or a blurry lightweight version of the image appears in its place while the surrounding text loads. After a few seconds, the image clearly loads in full resolution. The popular blogging platform Medium does this really well. The low-resolution version loads followed by the full high-resolution version. Read this guide on Google to know more about lazy loading.

Condensing and Bundle Files

When you audit a page, it recommends you to ‘minify resource’. Minification condenses a code file by removing things like line breaks and spaces, as well as abbreviating code variable names whenever possible.

Another term is bundling which is a process of bundling, combines a bunch of the same coding language files into one single file. For example, you can put a few JavaScript files into one larger file to reduce the amount of JavaScript files for a browser.

Your website could also target audiences from international locations. It is good to read up on international SEO best practices, helping you serve relevant content to a worldwide audience.

Multilingual websites can use hreflang tag to tell Google that your page has a copy for another language. Read more.

If you would like to target audiences in multiple countries they should have a URL structure that makes it easy to target their domain or pages to specific countries. This approach includes the usage of country code top level domain (ccTLD) such as .in or .us for Indian and the USA, respectively. Read more about it.

To conclude, you have written for real people and then optimized your website for search engines. Now you have learned how websites work, and how search engines request websites to deliver to your browser. You also know how to speed up your website to keep Google and your readers happy. Now implement these tricks to speed up your website. Work with Verbinden Communication to get your website working faster.