Many people assume that search engine performance and organic rankings are based solely on the quality of your website’s content, but this simply isn’t the case. While high-quality content will certainly help secure high rankings, you’ll need to ensure that the technical aspects of your site and your content meet search engines’ expectations too.
To optimize your technical SEO, you’ll need to work on a variety of elements, including:
- Site Structure
- Indexed Pages
- Canonical Tags
- Structured Data
- Site Security
- Page Speeds
- Mobile Friendliness
Both users and search engines need to be able to navigate your website easily, which means the structure is integral to your online success. A simple mind map can be a useful way to figure out how your site should be structured.
Move from your homepage to main menu pages (e.g. Products, Blog, About Us, Contact) before splitting into sections, such as product categories, before moving on to individual pages, like product pages.
Search engines will only show indexed web pages on their SERPs, so it’s essential to make sure that every web page you want to appear in search results can be crawled and indexed. A file known as robots.txt will tell the search engine which pages can be crawled and which ones can’t, so pay attention to the information it provides and adjust technical settings to ensure the pages you want to be visible on SERPs are crawled and indexed.
In general, search engines don’t like duplicate content (or content they assume is duplicated). For many automotive websites, this can be difficult to overcome but canonical tags provide a viable solution.
Let’s go back to the Toyota Car Parts website as an example. You may have different product pages for items that are very similar, such as:
- Toyota Corolla Mk 12 Brake Pads – Front
- Toyota Corolla Mk 12 Brake Pads – Rear
- Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4 17” Alloy Wheels
- Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4 18” Alloy Wheels
As well as being similarly named, it’s likely that the content on these pages will be fairly similar, which is why it’s easy for search engines to assume it’s duplicated.
A canonical tag is a small piece of HTML code that tells search engines which page is the ‘main’ page when multiple pages contain duplicate or near-duplicate content. This ensures only the page with canonical tag is indexable and, in turn, prevents your rankings from being negatively impacted by content that search engines perceive as duplicated.
If you have 15 product pages with different types of alloy wheels for a Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4, you may want to make a main page entitled ‘Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4 Alloy Wheels’ and use canonical tags to make sure this is the only page indexed and visible when users search for related content. From this page, internal links will make it easy for users to find the specific product they’re looking for, thus enhancing the UX and improving your SEO performance.
Publishing product information in a recognizable, structured format makes it easier for search engines to interpret and can, therefore, improve your rankings. There are various structured data methods, but Schema is particularly relevant for eCommerce sites and is widely used throughout the automotive industry.
You can use FAQ Schema to increase your chances of ranking within Google’s FAQs on relevant SERPs. For example, ItemList Schema can tell search engines what’s on your category and subcategory pages and Product Schema allows search engines to access more information about your inventory.
Optimal site security will increase your website’s trustworthiness, which can enhance SEO rankings, but it will also reassure potential customers that they’re dealing with a reputable and reliable company.
If you’re still using HTTP, for example, it’s certainly time to switch to HTTPS. As well as positively impacting your rankings, your site visitors will have increased confidence that you’re processing their data safely and securely.
Page loading times have a direct impact on SEO rankings and user behavior. Recent studies showed that the highest eCommerce conversion rates occur on websites with page loading speeds between 0 – 2 seconds. The longer your web pages take to load, the higher your bounce rate will be, so make speeding up your website a top priority if you want to increase your rankings and optimize the UX.
Mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of all web traffic and Google’s transition to ‘mobile-first indexing’ means it’s increasingly important for your website to deliver a fantastic mobile user experience.
Despite this, many companies still assume that a desktop website will perform well on mobile devices without the need for any changes. In fact, screen sizes and internet speeds can drastically impact how effectively content is displayed on mobile devices, so don’t overlook the importance of increasing your site’s mobile-friendliness.
With responsive web design, for example, you can ensure that your site delivers an optimal UX across a wide range of devices and fulfill Google’s mobile-first indexing requirements.