Technical SEO: The Perfect Guide For Beginners in 2020

Woman and man sitting in front of a computer analyzing their technical SEO

As marketers, we often like to ignore anything that involves tech. This is also true for technical SEO. Especially if you’re a beginner.

But this is a HUGE mistake (emphasizing on the huge part). Technical SEO is the bedrock of your SEO strategy.

If your website is not well-structured, search engines like Google and Bing cannot crawl and index your pages.

Sometimes even leaving out your entire site or very important parts completely out of the search engines’ radar!

You don’t want your content to mimic John Cena, do you?

So it is critical to have a Dwanye ‘The Rock‘ Johnsonhard grasp over the basic technical facets of SEO.

OK. Enough with the WWE puns. Let’s dive straight into this.

In this article, I’ll cover the basics of technical SEO. And what do you need to know as a technical SEO beginner.

So you can build a foundation to rest your SEO strategies.

Let’s go wild!

What Is Technical SEO?

Website backend on WordPress

Technical SEO is improving the organic ranking of your website by optimizing it to fulfill the technical demands of search engines.

In simpler terms, it helps search engines like Google to crawl and index your website. And if your website is top quality (based on their criteria), search engines reward you with higher rankings.

Watch John Lincoln from Ignite Visibility talk about why you need technical SEO

What Technical SEO isn't?

Technical SEO does not involve content optimization or backlink building. These exercises are important aspects of your overall SEO strategy but don’t fall in the periphery of technical SEO.

Technical SEO Factors

There are several dozens of factors that influence technical SEO, let’s list the most important ones:

  • Website Structure
    • URL Structure
    • Breadcrumbs
  • Crawling And Indexing
    • Internal Links
    • XML Sitemaps
    • Robots.txt
  • Duplicate Content
    • Noindex Tags
    • Canonical URLs
  • Website Speed
    • Time To First Byte
    • Total Download Time
    • Full Render Time
  • Mobile Optimization
  • Website Security
    • HTTP
    • HTTPS
  • Structured Data
  • Status Codes
    • 200
    • 301
    • 302
    • 404
    • 500
    • 503

Phew! Don’t worry, we’ll cover each of these in the article today.

Website Structure in Technical SEO

Two people drawing a website structure on whiteboard

An optimal site structure is the most essential aspect of technical SEO. It is the base of everything else that you do to enhance your website.


Because poorly structured sites can come in the way of crawling and indexing by search engines.

A good site structure is flat.

No, not flat like the earth.  

Hello, flat earthers!

What I mean by that is you should link your webpages in such a way that each of them is only a few links away.

Bad Sitemap Design with black pen in hand on white paper

Bad Website Structure

This is essential because it enables search engines to find all your pages with little effort.

Good Sitemap Design with black pen in hand on white paper

Good Website Structure

If you look at the first picture, not all pages are linked properly. So, web crawlers may visit this website but never reach those pages!

URL Structure

If you’ve want to enhance your technical SEO, you should be familiar with URLs. First up, let’s look at the different aspects of a URL.

Parts Of URL - Protocol Subdomain Domain TLD Slug

Parts Of URL

  1. Protocol – This is a set of rules that are used to communicate on the internet to exchange webpages and files.

    This could either be HTTP or HTTPS.

  2. Sub-domain – Most sub-domain is just www. But there are websites where sub-domains are used to store independent divisions.

    These are treated as separate units by search engines and do not share domain authority with the main website.

  3. Domain – Next we have the domain name, which is the name you call your website.

  4. TLD (Top-Level Domain) – Domains are followed by TLDs. This could be .com, .in, .org, .net, .io, and so on.

  5. Slug – Slugs come after the TLD and are given to every page other than the homepage. These are what you call the individual pages in your domain.

    If you call your website home, then slugs are the bedrooms, living room, bathroom, etc.

When I speak about optimizing your URL, I’m asking you to focus on the slug. The slug should be keyword-focused and be as short as possible.

Example Of Optimized Slug

Good URL Slug

  • When there are several words in your slug, use hyphens to separate them

  • Leave out the articles – a, an, the

  • Leave out the specific numbers as well – 7, 2020

  • Don’t use the same keyword more than once


A breadcrumb or breadcrumb tail is a navigation scheme. It displays a visitor’s current location on a website.

It also automatically creates internal links to the previous pages.

Example Of Breadcrumb Navigation on

Breadcrumb Navigation On

Shout out to all the tech peeps out there. You guys are awesome with names!

Android Ice Cream Sandwich, anyone? 😋

Crawling and Indexing in Technical SEO

Crawling And

This section talks about enhancing content discoverability by web spiders. By focusing on the various concepts that make crawling and indexing easier.

If you’re not sure of these terms, you should definitely check out the post I’ve written on SERPs that explains crawling, indexing, and how all of these work.

Internal Links

Getting your homepage indexed is not an issue. It’s the deep pages hidden somewhere in the corner that is difficult for search engines to find.

And you don’t want your content to play hide and seek with search engines.

hide and seek

Here’s how search engines crawl websites. They send spiders to your home page. These spiders crawl your home page and follow any link on your home page.

They then crawl these pages and follow any link on those pages and the process continues till the spiders stipulated time is over.

Even if you have a giant website, any page should be only 3-4 links away from your homepage.

This is also directly related to a flat site structure that we spoke of before.

XML Sitemap

Another way of making it easy for web crawlers to find all your pages is through an XML sitemap.

Example Of A Simple XML Sitemap with Just One URL and optional tags

A Simple XML Sitemap With Just One URL And Optional Tags

A website’s XML sitemap is a list of all the links on your website. Crawlers read this file and follow all the links available there.


Robots.txt is an instruction manual for web spiders. We store this text file in the site directory. It tells spiders which pages to index (or not to index).

Example Of A Simple Robots.txt File with Two Rules

A Simple Robots.txt File with Just Two Rules

If you do not want search engines to crawl a particular page, you can add that instruction here.

Duplicate Content in Technical SEO

Duplicate Windows On Twin Facade Wall in Prague

So you don’t use duplicate content on your website and it is full of unique content. Do you still need to worry?

Unfortunately, yes.

What you’re talking about is copying content from other’s websites. Search engines hate it. The original author definitely hates it. Just don’t do it!

You should take inspiration from others, but copying stuff isn’t cool.

By the way, if all your pages are crawled and indexed properly and someone copies your content. That’s their duplicate content problem. You need not worry about it.

Noindex Tag

Coming to the content on your own website. You’re going to have duplicate content on your website whether or not you like it.

Suppose you have a handsome e-commerce website that sells running shoes. Chances are every color, size, or other specification for a pair of shoes that will have its own URL.

Here’s what I mean:

Orange Women's Running Shoes On Amazon

T-Rock Sports Running Shoes – Orange

Running Shoes Yellow

T-Rock Sports Running Shoes – Green

The simple solution to this is adding a Noindex tag to all the pages except the main one.

Canonical URL

Sometimes you can add duplicate content accidentally. One prime example is the homepage canonicalization.

Your homepage can have as many as 4 different addresses without you even knowing it! And search engines treat each of these as separate pages.

Example Of Canonicalization For A E-Commerce Site

Canonicalization Of Pages With Similar Content

To counter this, you can use a canonical tag in the page’s header. This will tell search engines like Google that this page is not original.

There is another page containing the same or similar content that is the original.

Website Load Speed in Technical SEO

Page speed matters in customer experience. No one likes a website that takes an eternity to load.

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. – Neil Patel

Page load speed is also important for SEO as it is a minor ranking factor for search engines.

If your pages load faster, people are likely to visit more pages inside your website.

Additionally, web spiders can also crawl all your pages in the stipulated time.

Key Elements Of Website Speed

When you’re running your page speed tests, you may get lost in the several factors that can affect how a website loads. We’ll take into consideration the 3 key ones.

Time To First byte

This gives us information on how long the server takes to respond to the first request made to your website.

You can counter a slow response time by enhancing your website’s caching. Or by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Also, consider lazy loading. It deters the loading of page objects until you don’t scroll there.

Total Download Time

This tells us the total time taken to download all the elements on the page.

It depends on how heavy your media is. Consider compressing your images.

If you’re on WordPress, plugins like Smush can automatically take care of it.

Also, look at your code for unnecessary bulk. Use a CSS minifier to remove extra code from your CSS.

Full Render Time

This provides us data on how much time is required to fully render the page.

Most often, the major culprits in slow render time are third-party plugins or resources.

Try using asynchronous loading to load these elements after the other elements have loaded.

Mobile Optimization in Technical SEO

Person Holding Grey Mobile Phone In Hand

It is 2020. If you do not optimize your website for mobile, you’re going to lose the race.

More than half the internet traffic today comes from mobile phones!

Plus, mobile-friendly websites also find higher authority in Google’s algorithm.

One thing that you need to understand here is that websites render differently on mobiles as compared to desktops.


Because of their mammoth difference in screen size.

Macbook Pro IPad and IPhone Side By Side On a Wooden Table

This is where mobile responsiveness comes into the picture.

Mobile responsiveness means that the elements on your website change how they render according to the screen size its viewed on.

Another thing to keep in mind is that mobile in often runs on data and it takes longer to load any heavy media on mobiles. So, it’s vital to get rid of HD images/videos or anything that reduces user experience on mobile.

Check out Google’s Mobile Usability Report to find exactly where you’re going wrong and fix that.

Security in Technical SEO - HTTP and HTTPS

Golddoor Gold Padlock

If your website is running on HTTP, you have an unsecured website. This means that all communication between a visitor’s system and your server is public.

So, anyone can interrupt the traffic and eavesdrop into the conversation.

When you add a security layer to your website, your website shows the HTTPS protocol along with a lock sign.

Example Of A Secure Website - Aranya Marketing

Secure Website With Lock Sign

This encrypts the communication, and no one can see the data that’s been shared between your website and your visitor.

Search engines also use HTTPS as a ranking factor. In fact, they introduced site security into Google’s algorithm way back in 2014.

Example Of A Non-Secure Website -

Unsecured Website With ‘Not secure’ Warning

Nowadays, if your website doesn’t have a security certificate, it shows a ‘Not secure’ message potentially scaring people off your website.

Structured Data in Technical SEO

Office Documents Filed In Brown Folders

Structured data is the on-page markup that enables search engines to understand your content better. It doesn’t correlate to better rankings on its own, but it can help your website to gain real estate on SERPs.


Schema can give your webpages rich snippets that can show up on SERPs. And because these stand out, it can boost your CTR.

SERP showing Featured snippet result for the search How To become a marketer

Featured Snippet On Google

Want to know more about SERPs and the various featured snippets available on Google?

Check out this post: The Simplistic Guide To SERPs In 2020 (+ Helpful Examples)

The most common data markup is, built by the collaboration between Yahoo, Bing, Google, and Yandex.

If you’re using WordPress, you can define your schema through any good SEO plugin like Yoast or Rankmath.

Status Codes in Technical SEO

401 Light Background

When a visitor’s system requests information from your website server, it receives a status code.

This code relays information about the status of your website. Some of these codes can impact how search engines interpret your website’s health.

Let’s look at the major code that, every marketers should know:

  • The 200 Status CodeThis code means that everything is alright on the webpage.
  • The 301 Status CodeThis implies that a webpage has moved permanently to a new address and instructs search engine spiders to index that page instead.
  • The 302 Status CodeThis implies that a page is temporarily moved, and search engines should keep the original page indexed.
  • The 404 Status CodeA 404 code means that the page your browser has requested does not exist on the website.
  • The 500 Status Code – This code means that there’s an error with your internal server
  • The 503 Status CodeThis tells the spiders that something’s wrong at the server-side and instructs them to come back later

Want to know about all the possible status codes?

The good fellows at Click Minded have a solid post on that. Have a look.

Over To You

Any good SEO strategy requires an equally good technical SEO strategy.

Without this, all your link building and content optimization efforts can go in vain. So make sure to grasp as much as possible and start using some of these concepts on your website.

Its simple. If you make things simpler for search engines like Google. They will oblige.

How many of these do you already use?

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