There are many parts to a complete SEO plan, and one of them is technical SEO.
No matter what type of website you run, avoiding the technical side of the search engine optimization process could result in losing your ranking in search results.
This comprehensive guide will take you through the process of technical SEO in 9 parts.
From website security to page load speed, this guide will cover everything that you need to know.
Let’s dive straight into it!
What Is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to the steps taken to improve the technical aspects of a website with the main goal being to increase the site’s search engine rankings.
The reason it is called “technical” is that it has nothing to do with the website’s content, it solely focuses on improving the site’s indexing, crawling & usability.
Technical SEO is done to help search engines crawl and index your website more effectively, improving the likelihood of your web pages earning a high organic search engine ranking.
Some of the tasks that can be done to technically optimize a site include, improving web page loading speed, ensuring the site is mobile friendly and responsive, submitting a sitemap for the website, installing an SSL certificate, and more.
In my opinion, technical SEO can be the most complicated part of any SEO plan, so its important to concentrate.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
You need to put together all the parts of an SEO plan to see real results, so if you miss out a vital part like Technical SEO, you will be making it difficult for yourself to rank in search results.
Because of what Technical SEO entails, avoiding it will damage your chances of appearing in search results, therefore resulting in a much lower amount of traffic to your site.
Let’s say you get lucky and rank in search results without properly doing technical SEO, there will still be problems.
If your website is not secure, or mobile-friendly, or takes a long time to load, when people click onto your site they will probably just leave.
Your website’s technical SEO does not need to be perfect to be able to rank.
However, you do need to make it easy for your site’s visitors to access and engage with your content.
Search engines also need to be able to easily access your web pages so that they can crawl them and then index them in search results.
Google Search Console
What Is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free service made by Google that makes it easy for you to monitor and maintain your website’s presence within Google Search results.
You don’t have to use the Search Console to have your site rank in search results, but using the tool will help you to maintain your rankings and improve how Google crawls your website.
Google Search Console Features:
Here are just some of the features that are available to you within this tool.
- Fix indexing problems & request pages to be re-indexed.
- See which websites link to yours.
- Receive alerts when Google discovers any issues on your site.
- Confirm that Google can properly crawl your website.
- Troubleshoot technical issues for mobile usability, site speed, and more.
As well as all of that, there are also many more features and capabilities inside the Google Search Console.
Who Should Use Google Search Console?
Every single website owner and creator should have Search Console set up for their website, including:
- Website Developers
- SEO Specialists
- Business Owners
- Website Administrators
Even if you are not going to be using Search Console yourself, it is recommended that you understand the basics of it.
Why Is Google Search Console Important?
Search Console is the best tool in the industry when it comes to maintaining your site’s Google search engine rankings.
With Search Console you can track your website’s search engine ranking performance, so you can see if your traffic from organic rankings is going up or down.
You can use the tool to submit a sitemap for your website which allows Google to crawl and index your web pages and understand the structure of your website.
Google Search Console has a section which focuses on enhancing your website, this section gives you tips to increase the loading speed for your web pages and improve the usability of the mobile version of your website.
You can connect your Search Console account with your Google Analytics account, this allows you to access Search Console data within Google Analytics.
Google Search Console also has a security section which gives you tips to improve your website’s security, this can be very helpful if you missed anything out or didn’t already know how to secure your site.
Using the Search Console platform will massively help you to improve your website’s search engine rankings and make the user experience better for all visitors.
It’s also completely free to use, so there are no reasons not to use it!
Add Your Site To Google Search Console
To use Search Console, you must sign up and add your website to your account, so let’s start by doing that.
A Google account is required for you to create a Search Console, so create one if you don’t have one already.
Once you are signed in to your Google account we can start the process of creating your Google Search Console account.
Create Your Google Search Console Account
Open the Search Console website, and then simply click the blue “Start now” button.
If you are not yet signed in to your Google account it will ask you to sign in.
Then you will need to select the property type for your website.
There are two options:
- URL Prefix
I recommend selecting domain as it will allow you to work with a broader range of data for your website.
Once you have selected your property type, you need to enter the domain for your website.
Then click “Continue”.
You will now be required to verify that you own this domain name.
To do this you have to log in to the domain name provider where you purchased your domain, and then add a TXT record to your domain’s DNS configuration.
This may sound complicated, but I’ll guide you through it.
Login to your domain name provider (mine is Namecheap).
Go to the Advanced DNS settings for your domain.
Click “Add New Record” under the DNS settings for your domain.
Select the “TXT Record” option, then in the “host” box enter “@”.
In the box labelled “Value” paste in the TXT record that you were given from Google Search Console.
If you have an option to edit the “TTL” set it to “Automatic”, then click save.
Then go back to the Search Console and click “Verify”.
If you get a popup that says “verification failed”, give it a couple of hours for the changes you made within your domain name provider to apply.
Then click “Verify” again, and it should say “ownership verified”.
You have now successfully added your website to Google Search Console.
Most data will now be accessible, but some can take up to 24 hours to be visible.
You can now start using the Search Console!
Users, Owners, and Permissions
There are two roles that Google Search Console accounts can have within a property.
Owner: An owner has complete control over a property within Google Search Console. They can view all data, access every tool, change settings, and add other users and owners to a property.
User: A user can see data and take some actions depending on the restrictions that are in place, but that cannot add new users or owners to a property.
It is crucial that you carefully think about who you give each particular role to, as you don’t want to give full access to someone that can’t be trusted or just doesn’t need it.
How To Add A New User To A GSC Property:
- On the Google Search Console dashboard, click onto the “Settings” page.
- Click onto the “Users and permissions” page.
- Click “Add User”, then enter the Google email address for the user you are adding.
- Select the permission level that you want to give the new user.
- Finally, click “Add” to add the user to your Google Search Console property.
The new user will now be added to your property.
How To Remove A User From Your GSC Property:
- Click “Settings” on the menu at the left of your Google Search Console Dashboard.
- Click onto the “Users and permissions” page.
- Select the three dots next to the user you want to delete from your property, and then click “Remove user”.
The user will be instantly removed from your Google Search Console property.
Submit Your Sitemap
Submitting a sitemap is not required to be able to rank in search results, but it will help Google to find all of your web pages and understand the structure of your site which will make it easier for them to crawl and index your web pages.
It is recommended that all websites have a sitemap, but there are two cases where you must generate a sitemap for your website:
- The website is new. If you have a new website, you should have a sitemap because you will have fewer backlinks meaning your web pages are more difficult for search engines to find organically.
- The website has many pages. If you have a big website, search engines are more likely to miss a page out, so adding a sitemap will show them the structure of your site helping them to find every single page.
How To Submit Your Sitemap To Google Search Console:
Once you have generated a sitemap for your website, it is quite easy to submit it to Google Search console.
First, log in to Search Console and select the property that you want to add the sitemap to.
From the Search Console dashboard, click on “Sitemaps”.
On this page, you can add a new sitemap, or view sitemaps that you have previously submitted.
In the box labelled “Add a new sitemap”, paste in the URL for your sitemap.
Finally, click “Submit”!
It’s as easy as that, you’re all done!
The sitemap has now been submitted to your property in Search Console.
Google will now crawl the sitemap that you have submitted.
Filter Data In Google Search Console
Within GSC there are multiple ways for you to view and filter different data.
At first, they may be confusing, but once you know how to use them, they are very useful to have.
These are the three main filter types:
There are three search types that you can filter data by web, image, and video.
The most common one that people use is web, but if you gain a lot of traffic through image or video search you should try them out as well.
Alternatively, you can choose to compare two types of traffic.
To do this, click the “compare” tab and then choose the two traffic types that you want to compare, and click “Apply”.
By comparing different traffic types, you can find some interesting information about how your web traffic compared to image or video traffic.
You could, for example, find out that you get more traffic through image search than you previously thought.
You can use this filter to display data from a specific date range.
It’s possible to select a preset time range or set a custom range.
As well as that, you can compare the data from two different date ranges.
To do this, select “compare”, and then pick the dates that you want to compare.
This can be incredibly helpful for comparing data from two different date ranges to see if your website traffic, search engine rankings, and CTR are all increasing.
Query, Page, Country, Device, Search Appearance
To add one of these filter types, you need to click “New”.
You will then be introduced to five other filter types that you can use to sort Search Console data.
These are query, page, country, device, and search appearance.
It’s best to use all of them so that you get the hang of using them, so let’s go through each of them.
Using the “Query” filter you can filter data by “Queries containing”, “Queries not containing”, and “Exact query”.
Or you can compare the data from two queries.
With the “Page” filter you can filter data by “URLs containing”, “URLs not containing”, and “Exact URL”.
Or you can use the compare option to compare data from two different URLs.
The “Country” filter lets you view data from the specific country that you select.
You can also use the compare option to compare data from two different countries.
The “Device” filter allows you to filter data by device, this includes Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet.
Or you can compare data from two devices, for example, Desktop vs Mobile.
Finally, we have the “Search Appearance” filter.
This filter type gives you the ability to compare or filter different types of search results, for example, Web Light results, Rich results, AMP article and more.
View Average Click Through Rate (CTR)
If you want to view the average CTR for your web pages, follow this simple guide:
Click “Performance” (On the left menu).
Click “date” to adjust the date range, and select the dates you want to see data for.
Within the data range, click on “compare” to compare data from two date ranges.
De-select “Total clicks”, and any other data points that are currently selected.
Tick “Average CTR” to only see the average click-through rate.
Click the data type you want to see the CTR for (Queries, Pages, Countries, etc).
To sort the data from highest to lowest, click the CTR button that has an arrow next to it.
You can now see the click-through rate for search queries, web pages, countries, devices and more.
Identify Your Highest Ranking Pages
To discover how to identify your site’s highest-ranking pages, follow these simple instructions:
First, click on the performance page on the left menu within your dashboard.
Click “Date” at the top to select the time range you want to view or compare data for.
De-select “Total clicks”, “Total impressions” and any other data points that are currently selected, and select “Average position”.
Scroll down to see the different data types and select “pages”.
Sort the ranking position from highest to lowest (remember with search engine rankings the lower number equals a higher ranking).
There you go, that’s all you need to do!
You can now see which of your web pages have earned the highest ranking in search results.
See Which Pages Haven’t Been Indexed
Doing this will help you to understand which of your web pages have not been indexed by Google, and also why.
Follow this simple step by step guide to learn how:
Click “coverage” on the menu located on the left of your dashboard.
At the top of the page, you can select to view data for all submitted web pages, or just pages from a particular sitemap.
This is very helpful if you have re-structured your website, and you are using a new sitemap.
De-select “Error” and any other data points that are currently selected, and select “Excluded”.
Scroll down to the “details” box to see the errors that are causing your pages to be excluded from being indexed.
Click onto an error type to see the URLs for pages that are not being indexed because of these errors.
Now you can see all of your web pages that are not being indexed and what the reasons for this are, as well as when Google last crawled each of these particular pages.
Learn How Many Backlinks Your Site Has
Everyone website owner wants to know how many backlinks their site has, and it’s super easy to find out.
Follow these simple steps to learn how:
Click onto the “links” page which is on the menu on the left of your Google Search Console dashboard.
Find the “External links” section.
The total amount of backlinks your site has received is displayed directly below the “External links” heading.
Within this section, you can also see how many backlinks each of your individual web pages have.
It’s as simple as that, you now know how many backlinks your website has.
Identify Mobile Usability Issues
It is now crucial to have a website that is responsive and fully functional on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Google Search Console has a feature which will show you if your site has any mobile usability issues.
Follow this quick guide to see how to do it:
Click “Mobile Usability” on the menu on the left of your Search Console dashboard.
Ensure that “Error” is selected, and “Valid” is de-selected, this will show you how many errors your site has.
Scroll down to the “details” box to see more information surrounding the mobile usability errors that your web pages have.
Finally, click onto any of the error types (if you have any), to see which web pages are affected.
Now you know how many mobile usability errors your website has, which pages are affected, and what the errors are.
What Is Page Speed?
The term “site speed”, or “page speed” usually refers to the amount of time that it takes for a web page to be fully visible and interactive, including images, forms, text, etc.
This is the time from when the page was first clicked on until all of the content has finished loading.
Many different techniques can be used to increase your web page loading speed.
It is estimated that just a one-second delay in web page loading time will result in:
- 11% fewer page views.
- 7% decrease in conversions.
Amazon executives have said that one second of load lag time would cost the company $1.6 billion in sales per year.
Why Is Page Speed Important?
If it takes too long for a web page to load, users will just leave, these users could be potential customers that you are just throwing away because of a slow website.
A slow page load speed means your website has a poor user experience.
Here are a few different stats that show how important it is to improve page loading speed:
- 25% percent of people would abandon a website if it took more than 4 seconds to load.
- 75% of mobile users would leave a site if it took longer than 5 seconds to load.
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 79% of online shoppers who are unsatisfied with website performance will be less likely to buy from the same site again.
How To Improve Page Speed
We won’t go too in-depth yet, but here are a few different ways to improve your web page loading speed:
- Install a performance plugin.
- Optimize your images.
- Switch to managed hosting.
There are also many more methods and strategies that people use to improve page speed.
How To Test Page Speed
There are many tools available that will test the speed of your website pages, but the one I prefer is the free tool by Google called PageSpeed Insights.
This tool test page speed for the mobile and desktop version of your website, and it also gives you lots of information that will help you to improve the speed of your web pages.
There is a simple process to test your page speed with this tool:
Step One – Open PageSpeed Insights
Go to the page speed insights website.
Step Two – Enter Web page URL
Paste in the URL for the web page that you want to test the loading speed for & click “Analyse”.
Step Three – View Mobile & Desktop Speed
To view mobile page speed click “Mobile”, and to view page speed on desktop click “Desktop”.
You will see an overall score for both mobile and desktop page speed, anything above 90 means your web page is fast to load.
Below the score, there are three more sections of data:
- Lab Data
Lab data gives you data about the speed of different aspects of your web page, including time till the page is interactive, speed of first visible content, and so on.
Opportunities are suggestions and strategies that you can use to help make the page load faster.
Diagnostics provide you with more information about the performance of your website.
Remove Unused Plugins
This is mainly for websites that are being run on a content management system like WordPress or Weebly.
If you have installed many plugins on your website, you must uninstall any that are not being used.
Plugins that are installed to a WordPress website can slow down the loading speed, creating a bad user experience.
When you install a plugin you should think about whether it will improve your site and make it better for users.
You don’t want to install a plugin for the sake of it, as it will slow down your website.
However, it is important that you only delete plugins that you know will not damage your site, or are already inactive and not being used.
How To Remove Plugins From A WordPress Website:
This is very simple so it will just take a couple of minutes.
First, go to the dashboard for your site.
Next, click “Plugins” on the menu located on the left of your dashboard.
Now you will be able to see all of the plugins installed on your website.
If the plugin that you want to delete is already deactivated, you just need to click “Delete”, and it will be removed from your site.
Or, if it is an active plugin, click “Deactivate” to deactivate it, and then click “Delete” to remove it from your website.
It’s as simple as that, removing a plugin is super simple and you should not forget how to do it.
Do this to all of the plugins that you want to remove, and it will speed up your website.
I recommend testing the speed of your website after removing each plugin to see how the speed increases for each plugin you remove.
Install Performance Plugins
If your website is running on WordPress, there are many different plugins available that will help to improve your website’s loading speed.
These performance plugins can also vary in functionality, some functions these plugins offer include caching, image optimization, lazy load, file compression, and so on.
It is crucial that you backup your website before installing any plugins that alter your website files if anything goes wrong you must have a version of your website that you can restore.
Here Are Some Of The Most Useful Performance Plugins On WordPress:
I have used each of these plugins myself, and in my opinion, they are the best WordPress performance plugins on the market.
This is an image optimization plugin that compresses, resizes, and adds lazy load to your images.
The plugin compresses images while preserving their quality.
It can bulk compress images in your media library, and automatically compress images that are being uploaded to your site.
This plugin also has a lazy load feature, which improves page speed by only loading images that are currently visible on the user’s screen.
It’s easy to set up, and will visibly increase your page speed, after optimizing each image on your site.
W3 Total Cache:
This plugin improves user experience by increasing website performance and reducing page load times.
Minification refers to the process of removing unnecessary or redundant code within these file types.
This plugin also has a caching system which boosts page speed for users who return to your site.
As well as all of this, there are more features within this plugin that help to improve your website’s performance.
There have been over 10 million downloads, it’s free to use and simple to set up.
The WP Rocket plugin is the best WordPress performance plugin available, it stands out from all of its competitors.
Over 1 million WordPress websites have WP Rocket installed onto their website.
If you want the best of the best when it comes to performance optimization plugins, this is the one for you.
WP Rocket has all of the same features as it’s competitors, just with some extras, including, Database optimization, Lazyload, eCommerce friendly, and more.
This is the go-to WordPress optimization plugin for WordPress experts, that is also said to be the most powerful.
The lazy load plugin forces images and iframes to only load when they are visible to the user.
It works with thumbnails, images within blog posts, widget images, avatars, and iframes.
You can also use the lazy load plugin to replace YouTube iframes with a preview thumbnail to further improve page load speed.
The plugin is lightweight, which means installing it will not slow down your site.
Shortpixel is an easy to use, lightweight image optimization plugin that can compress all of your images and PDF documents.
It will automatically compress images as they are uploaded to your site, and it can also bulk optimize all previously uploaded images in one click.
There is also an option to convert PNG to JPG to further reduce the file sizes for your images.
The shortpixel website also has a tool which allows you to bulk compress up to 50 images at once.
If your WordPress website is slow, installing just one of these plugins will improve your site’s performance.
You mustn’t go and install all of these plugins, only install one at a time and then test your site speed to see the improvement.
Some of these plugins do the same job, for example, Shortpixel, and Smush both focus on image optimization, so you only need one of those.
I suggest Smush and WPRocket for the ultimate combination, or for a free option, you can use W3 Total Cache with Smush.
Just using these two plugins, my site’s Google Page Speed Insights score went from 68 to 87.
Hopefully, you now know the value that performance plugins offer.
Install a performance plugin on your WordPress website, set it up, and then watch your page speed increase.
Generally speaking, larger image files take longer to download than smaller ones.
The page load time will depend on the size of the media files that are on the web page.
If you have many large image files on a web page, it will take longer to load.
This is where optimizing the image files comes in.
If you optimize your images before you upload them to your website, they will load faster for the end-user.
There are a few different methods that can be used to optimize your images.
Use Fewer Images:
The easiest way to optimize your images is to use less.
Of course, it is great to add images to your web pages, but if you keep it to a minimum it will keep your pages lighter and faster.
Carefully choose the images that you upload to your website, and don’t add too many.
File Format Selection:
There are different file formats that you should use depending on the type of image.
You should use JPGs when it is crucial that your image is high quality, and does not need modifying.
If your images have logos, text, illustrations, icons, or anything with transparent background you should use the PNG file format.
You will rarely use GIFs, but they should only be used for small and simple images, and nothing complex.
By properly sizing the images that you create for your content, you will save valuable bytes from the image file size (this means it effectively weighs less).
When I say image sizing, I’m talking about the width and height of your image.
Don’t make images that are taller and wider than they need to be.
The most effective image optimization method is to compress your images before uploading them to your website.
You can use a plugin if you have a WordPress website, or use an online image compression tool.
I suggest if you are looking for a WordPress image compress plugin, you should use Smush.
If you want to use an online image compression tool, I recommend TinyPNG or Shortpixel.
All of the tools and plugins that I have told you about are free and easy to use.
Once you have optimized your images, they will have smaller file sizes, and load faster within your web pages.
Switch To Managed Hosting
It may cost a bit more, but there are many advantages of switching your website to a managed hosting plan.
Switching to managed website hosting will improve website security, performance, support, and more.
Managed hosting is favoured by small to medium-sized businesses that want to set up their online presence, and individuals who are serious about their website.
If you are unsure which managed hosting provider to use, I suggest Cloudways, it’s easy to set up, has great support, and has many useful features.
With Cloudways, you can pick from many different application types, including WordPress, Magento, PHP, and more.
You can also select your server type from many available options, including Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and more.
Managed Hosting Features:
- Database optimization
- Content delivery network
- Cache optimization
- 24/7 Support
- Performance optimized servers
- End to end encryption
On top of all of this, there are also many more features included with managed hosting plans.
Why Use Managed Hosting?
Here are some key reasons why you should switch to managed hosting.
You will never have to worry about losing your data if you have managed hosting.
This is because managed hosting solutions have specialised and automated server backups.
Just ensure that backups are enabled in your account before you start working on your website.
Support On Standby
The majority of managed hosting providers offer 24/7 support, so if your site ever goes offline, they will help you to bring it back online.
The support staff are specially trained to resolve any technical issues.
The quality of support is one of the biggest benefits of switching to a managed hosting solution.
Lower Operating Costs
Within other hosting options, there are many hidden costs, including backups, security, support and so on.
Moving to managed hosting eliminates the need for the majority of these, as they are included.
Choosing the right hosting solution will save you time, money, and stress in the future.
Managed hosting solutions have server backups, updates, firewalls, and virus scanning to protect your website from any attacks.
This will give you peace of mind from any security issues, so you can be certain that your web server is secure.
Due to the increased security efforts from managed hosting providers, any vulnerability will be identified as a threat before the server is attacked.
This gives you the upper hand against any virus, spam, or any other security threat.
Hopefully, I have convinced you to switch your website to managed hosting as it is a massive step up from shared hosting.
What does mobile-friendly mean?
If a website is mobile-friendly, it means that the site is optimized to be used on mobile devices.
The website must be able to shrink when it is being viewed through a mobile device so that it is fully functional and user friendly.
Many different techniques can be used to improve the usability of a website on a mobile device.
More users view websites through mobile devices than through desktop computers, so your site must be mobile-friendly.
A mobile-friendly website will have easily readable text, clickable links and buttons, and all other content must be functional.
For example, take a look at this screenshot of our website on a mobile device:
As you can see, the site responds to being on a mobile device and all of the content shrinks down so that it is accessible and functional.
Before going through the process of optimizing your website for mobile devices, you should test your site to see if it is already mobile-friendly.
Why Is It Important To Have A Mobile-Friendly Website?
First of all, it is important that your website looks good and is fully functional on all different screen sizes and devices.
If your site looks bad or in unusable on a particular device, you will lose traffic and potential customers.
Mobile usability is as a key ranking factor on Google and other search engines, so if your site is not mobile-friendly you will not rank as high as you could if it was optimized for mobile.
More internet users access websites through mobile devices than through desktop, so if your site is not mobile responsive users who access your site through mobile will probably just leave.
Here are some statistics that show how crucial it is to have a mobile-friendly website:
- Over 50% of website traffic is through mobile devices.
- 96% of people who browse the web on mobile use Google.
- Over 50% of PPC advertisement clicks come from mobile.
- More than 60% of emails are read on a mobile device.
Hopefully, some of those stats have helped you to understand the importance of having a website that is mobile friendly and accessible on all devices.
How To Improve Mobile Usability
Here are a few different methods you can use to improve the usability of your website on mobile devices:
- Install a responsive theme
- Keep menus simple
- Remove pop-ups on mobile
- Use short forms
There are also many more techniques you can use to ensure your site is mobile friendly.
How To Test Your Site To See If It’s Mobile Friendly
Many tools will test your site’s mobile functionality, but there is one that stands out from the others.
Google has created a tool that you can use called the Mobile-Friendly Test, which can be used to see if your web pages are mobile-friendly.
To use it, simply enter your URL into the tool, and then click “Test URL”.
The tool will now scan your webpage to see whether or not it is mobile-friendly.
Once the scan is complete, you will see a page that looks like this:
On this page, you will see the results for your web page.
As you can see, my web page has passed and therefore, it is mobile friendly.
The mobile-friendly test tool will also generate a render of your web page so that you can see what it will look like on a mobile device.
Install A Responsive Theme
If you want to quickly and easily make your website mobile-friendly, you could install a responsive theme.
A responsive theme is designed in a way that will make the webpage shrink to the size of the user’s device so that the content is readable and fully functional.
This is the perfect option for new websites, or websites with low traffic.
You do not want to disrupt any website visitors, so if you have an established website, this may not be the best option for you.
Installing a new, responsive theme, it the easiest way to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Where Can You Find Responsive WordPress Themes?
There are two places where you can look for responsive WordPress themes, one is free, and one is paid, so we will look at both.
This is a subscription service, once you have purchased a subscription, you can download anything from their library.
Every download within Envato Elements also has a commercial license included, so you can use items that you download for work or personal projects.
Browse WordPress themes, and then refine the results to only show responsive themes.
Then select the theme that you want to use for your website.
I suggest looking at a couple of different themes, previewing them, and then picking your favourite.
WordPress Theme Database
The official WordPress theme database is where you will find all of the free WordPress themes.
There are good, bad, and fantastic themes in this database, so you will need to carefully pick the best theme for your site.
Pick out the theme that you want to use, and then look at its preview to ensure it is right for your website.
WordPress Theme Installation
Once you have chosen your theme, installing your WordPress theme is simple.
Go to your WordPress dashboard, then under “appearance”, click on “themes”, and then click “add new”.
From here, you can either upload your theme or search for the theme you want within the WordPress theme database.
Once you have installed and set up your theme, open your site on all devices, and use the Mobile-Friendly Test to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Use Short Forms
If you have forms on your website, this could be contact forms, order forms, etc, they should be short and easy to access on mobile devices.
No one likes filling in long forms on desktop, but on mobile, it takes even longer, and is even more difficult, because you are using a smaller device.
Take a look at these two forms on mobile websites:
Would you subscribe to an email list if you need to fill in a long, and complicated form?
Every single website visitor would prefer the shorter, more simple form, as it saves time and removes any complications.
If I am on a website on my phone, and I need to fill in a form, if there are too many unnecessary input boxes, I will just leave the site.
To improve the user experience for users who visit your site on a mobile device, ensure all forms are quick and simple to fill in.
As well as that, shorter forms will also increase engagement and conversion rate within your website.
For example, if you have an email signup form, you just need to ask users for their name and email address, nothing more!
If users try to make a purchase on your site via a mobile device and then come across a complicated checkout form, they will probably end up leaving your site without making a purchase.
Put yourself in the mind of the visitor, and think about what would make you leave the website.
So to recap, ensure all forms are short, simple, and easy to fill in when accessed from a mobile device.
Add A Search Function
Every page on your website needs to be super easy to access via a mobile device, so adding a search box will massively improve the user experience.
If your website has many pages, products, or posts, you can’t expect users to find them through navigating your site on a mobile device.
Imagine you are visiting a website, and you can’t find a specific page that you are looking for.
You are likely to just leave, as there is no other reason for you to visit the site.
However, if the website has a search bar, you can search for the page you are looking for, and find it instantly.
Adding a search bar is even more crucial if you have an eCommerce website, as it will help visitors to find your products.
If you have hundreds, or thousands of products on your site, but no search bar, how do you expect to receive any sales from mobile users?
Let’s take a look at the home screen of the eBay website on mobile:
The search bar is easily accessible and helps visitors to find the exact product they are looking for.
eBay has over 25 million sellers and over 1 billion live listings.
Imagine how difficult it would be to find a product without the search feature available.
You will not have as many products or pages as a site like eBay, so if they can add a functional search bar, you can too.
I highly suggest implementing a search bar to make it simple for mobile users to navigate your site and find the page or product that they are looking for.
How Can You Add A Search Bar To Your Website?
If you have an HTML website, you should hire a web developer to build a search function into your website.
If your website runs on a content management system like WordPress, or Shopify, you can install a plugin that will add a search bar to your website.
A good plugin for WordPress is the Ivory Search Plugin, this plugin has both free and paid options.
Once you have added a search bar to your website, open it and test it on both mobile and desktop devices to ensure it looks good and is fully functional.
What Is Structured Data?
Structured data is a piece of code that gives search engines additional information about your web page.
Google and other search engines have multiple uses for structured data.
How do search engines use structured data?
- To understand more about the contents of a particular web page.
- To create rich results for your web page.
Humans and search engines look at web pages differently, for example, we can understand the details and format of a recipe, but they can’t.
Adding structured data will help the search engine understand the structure and content within a web page.
Structured data can be complicated to understand at first, so let’s look at an example:
Here we have a simple recipe that any human can understand easily.
All of the information within this recipe makes sense to you or me, but a search engine will need clear guidance to understand the specific information on the web page.
We need to tell Google and other search engines what each of these pieces of information actually means.
Let’s be more specific, imagine you are looking at the number of calories within the recipe, you can understand which number on the page is the number of calories because it is labelled.
Search engines need structured data to tell them which number represents the number of calories there are in a serving of these delicious brownies.
We do this by adding structured data to our markup.
The structured data is simply a piece of code that tells search engines what the information means.
Without structured data, search engines won’t be able to understand the content within a web page.
There are many different items you can markup using structured data, depending on the content within your page.
The main goal of adding structured data to a web page is to earn a rich result in search results.
What Is A Rich Result?
When you search Google, you will be given a list of results, some are normal results and some are displayed as rich results.
A normal result would usually look something like this:
The title is displayed in blue, URL in green, followed by a brief description of the web page.
A rich result, also known as a rich snippet, shows the user extra information on top of what you would see in a normal result.
A rich result has many different display variations, here’s an example:
On top of the normal information, you’d see in a search result, in this rich result Google also displays an image, star rating, baking time, and amount of calories.
As you can see, a result like this is much more appealing to click onto rather than the boring normal result.
Structured Data Markup Languages
The most common markup language that is used to add structured data to a web page is called JSON-LD.
The JSON-LD script is used in the header of a web page.
Other formats are available, but JSON-LD is the easiest, and most widely used.
Here’s an example of what the JSON-LD structured data markup looks like:
Remember, this differs slightly for every item that you markup, but the concept is the same.
It’s handy to understand it, but don’t worry you won’t have to write this as there are generators that will do it for us.
What Is Schema.org?
It is a community-run project used to power structured data on the internet.
Schema.org is a vocabulary that can be used with many different markup languages, including Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD.
Many search engines, including Google and Bing, use Schema vocabularies to power rich search results.
Over 10 million websites use Schema.org to markup their web pages.
A shared vocabulary like this makes it easier for website owners, developers, and search engines maximise benefits for their efforts.
Essentially, it is a database of different schema types that can be added to web pages and elsewhere on the internet.
The most common types of schema markup include events, products, recipes, and reviews.
- Always use the JSON-LD markup format.
- Be specific with the information you add to structured data.
- Only markup content that is visible on your web page, don’t spam.
- Choose the correct markup item for your web page.
- Always test and validate your structured data markup.
Once you properly understand what it is, and how to implement it, you should be good to go!
How Can Structured Data Boost SEO?
Adding structured data is a fantastic way of making your website look professional within search results.
There are many different ways of adding structured data to your web page can improve your SEO.
Structured data can give search results a better visual appearance, especially products, recipes and reviews.
This can entice users to click onto your page, therefore resulting in a higher click-through rate.
Increase In Conversions
If your site has a higher click-through rate, you will also have more conversions as you will have more people visiting your web pages.
More conversions mean more visitors, customers, sales, etc.
Boost Search Engine Rankings
The more information Google has about your web page, the better they will understand it, making it easier for them to rank your page.
By providing structured data, you are helping search engines to understand the structure and content within your page.
Structured data is not a ranking factor, but it can help search engines to understand what will make the page content relevant for more search queries.
Having your web page earn a rich result in Google, will make your website look more trustworthy, enticing, and authoritative to users.
This will make users more likely to click onto your web page, and then return in the future if your content was worthwhile to them.
Search engines will see that users trust your site and view it as authoritative, and that can help to then improve rankings.
This shows just how beneficial it is to add structured data markup to your website.
Items That Can Be Marked Up In Structured Data
There are plenty of items that can be marked up using structured data.
Here are some of the most popular items that are currently supported by Google, and display as rich results:
For events, Google will display the event name, locations and upcoming dates within a rich search result.
When product pages appear as rich search results, users will see the rating, price, and whether or not the product is in stock.
In my opinion, recipes are currently one of the most appealing rich results, displaying an image, rating, cooking time, and calorie amount.
For songs and albums, music markup can display release date, genre, producer, songwriter and album-length, depending on what information you give Google.
When someone writes a review, by adding schema markup the rich result can display the review date, rating, and the name of the person who wrote the review.
All of these structured data items are supported by Google and have rich results that make them look more appealing within Google searches.
You can view the full list of structured data items that enable rich snippets on the Google developers reference guide.
How To Add Schema Markup To Your Website
Now I’ll show you how to add schema markup to your web pages.
Before adding it to your web pages, we need to generate structured data markup for each page.
To do this, we are going to use a free tool called the Structured Data Markup Helper, which is created by Google.
This tool will make the whole process much quicker and easier.
Let’s go through the process step by step.
First, open the webpage that you want to add structured data to.
I have chosen a product page for a television.
Copy the URL for the webpage (we will need this soon).
Now, open the Structured Data Markup Helper.
Paste your URL into the URL box.
Then, select the most relevant data type for your webpage, as I am adding structured data to a product page, I will select “Products”.
If your webpage is an event page, select “Events”, if your webpage is an article, select “Articles”, and so on.
Once you have selected your data type and entered your URL, click “Start Tagging”.
You will now be given an interactive version of your webpage, which allows you to tag specific data.
You’ll be required to select a different set of data based on the type of structured data that you chose for your webpage.
To tag data, you need to highlight either a section of text or an image, and then match it to the data items on the right.
So, let’s start with “Name”, this will be the product name.
Highlight the name of the product, and then select “Name” as the data type.
Now, go through the list and add more data items, as many as you can.
At the very least, fill in all of the data items that say “required”.
If there is data that you are unable to highlight, you can click “Add missing tags” to add it.
For example, if you want to add the URL, click “Add missing tags”, select “URL” as the tag type, then enter the URL for your page, and click “Save”.
Then, once you have finished adding data items, click “Create HTML”.
Ensure that “JSON-LD” is selected at the output format.
Copy the script that has been generated.
Now we are going to validate the structured data that we have generated.
Open the Rich Results Test Tool.
Select “CODE”, and paste in the code that you have just copied.
Now click “TEST CODE”.
The Rich Results Test will now check your code to see if there are any issues.
Once it has loaded, you will get your results.
If you see a big green tick next to text that says “Page is eligible for rich results”, you have successfully generated functional structured data and there are no errors.
You can also ignore any warnings that appear in yellow.
However, if you see red text that says “Not all markup is eligible for rich results” you will need to go back to the structured data markup helper, and fix any errors.
The majority of errors are simply missing data items, so ensure that you tagged all of the required data items.
Once you have fixed any problems, regenerate your markup, and copy it back into the Rich Results Test Tool.
Continue fixing errors until you see green text that says “Page is eligible for rich results”.
Then, copy the code once again, and paste it into the header section of your webpage.
You will then need to save your webpage, and upload it to your web server so that it is live on the internet with the schema markup that you have just generated.
Remember, you don’t have to select the “product” structured data type like I have, there are many other structured data types that you can select that can be more relevant for your webpage.
If you run a WordPress website, there are multiple plugins that you can install, to do the bulk of the work for you.
However, if your website does not use WordPress, this is the best method for adding schema markup to your webpages.
What Is Robots.txt?
Also known as the “Robots Exclusion Protocol”, the robots.txt file is a text file that is saved to your website’s server.
The file tells search engine robots (also known as crawlers) how to crawl particular pages within a website.
When a search engine crawler reads the robots.txt file, they will learn which URLs within a website they can and can’t crawl.
All major search engines will respect the robots.txt file, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any ignoring the file.
What Is The Robots.txt File Used For?
Generally speaking, the file is used to manage crawler traffic to your site, and sometimes exclude a page from search results depending on the file type.
There are three-page types that you can add to a robots.txt file, and the functionalities differ between each of them.
This includes HTML, PDF, and other non-media formats that are readable by Google.
The robots.txt file can be used to manage crawler traffic to web pages, but not restrict them from being indexed in search results.
You must not use the robots.txt file to attempt to hide a web page from search results, this is because if it is linked to by other pages on the internet, it could still be indexed by search engines.
This includes image, video and audio files.
The robots.txt file can be used to manage crawler traffic, and prevent these types of pages from appearing in search results.
Excluding a media file from search results will not prevent other pages from being able to link to it.
This includes image, script, or style files.
Adding a resource file URL to your robots.txt file can manage its crawler traffic, and stop it from being indexed in search results depending on the parameters that you set.
It is important that you only block unimportant resource files that will not significantly affect the functionality of webpages that use the particular file you are blocking.
Why Should You Create A Robots.txt File?
Before search engine crawlers index a web page on a domain that they have not previously discovered, they will read it’s robots.txt file.
Upon reading the robots.txt file, they will see which URLs they can and can’t crawl.
If you have a web page that you do not want a particular search engine to crawl, you can add it to your robots.txt file.
Typically, search engines will refresh the robots.txt file daily, so any changes you make will come into effect relatively swiftly.
How To Check If You Have A Robots.txt File
If you are unsure whether or not your website already has a robots.txt file, you can find out in no time at all.
Simply type your domain into the search box, and add “/robots.txt” to the end.
It should look like this: “www.website.com/robots.txt”
Then search for this URL.
If your site does have a robots.txt file, you will find a page that looks something like this:
If your site doesn’t yet have a robots.txt file you will just see an error.
Basic Format, Syntax & Rules
When you create a robots.txt file there is some basic information that you should understand first.
The robots.txt file usually uses these three keywords, User-agent, Disallow and Allow.
User-agent: This is used to identify a specific crawler C or set of crawlers.
Disallow: This rule is added when you want to block a search engine robot from crawling a particular file or folder.
Allow: You add the allow rule when you want to allow a robot to crawl a file or folder.
Let’s look at some basic examples:
As you can see, in each of these examples we have put User-agent, followed by “*”, this means these rules apply to all search engine crawlers.
On the second line, we have the disallow rule.
As you can see we have used the disallow rule in four different ways.
First, leaving it empty will disallow nothing, so every crawler can access everything.
In the second example, we just have a forward slash, this basic says “everything”, so it blocks all folders and files.
For the third example, we have used the disallow rule to block one specific folder.
Then, for the final example, we have used the disallow rule to block a specific file.
Let’s look at some specific crawler examples:
The only change that we have made is specifying a user-agent, the Googlebot.
The Googlebot is Google’s web crawler.
All of these examples have the same rules, just with this one change.
Because I have specified a user-agent, these rules will only apply Google’s crawler “Googlebot”.
This is a useful feature if you want to block a specific file, or folder from a specific user-agent.
It’s likely that you won’t remember the names of all user-agents, so you can view the complete list of user-agents here.
- The robots.txt file must be located at the root of the website
- The file must be named “robots.txt“
- Your website must only have one robots.txt file
- You can add comments to the file after a “#”
Read through the file after writing it, and test it to ensure there are no errors.
How To Create A Robots.txt File
To create a robots.txt file you just need a text editor, I will use notepad.
First, create a new text document, name it “robots.txt”, and then open the file.
In the robots.txt file that we create, we are going to block specific crawlers from specific webpages, and then place our sitemap URL at the bottom of the file.
By adding the sitemap URL, we are telling crawlers where our sitemap is located.
We are going to block the “wp-admin” page from all crawlers.
This is the page that admins will use to login to the WordPress dashboard, so we do not want crawlers to crawl this webpage.
Then we will block the “contact” page from Google and MSN crawlers.
This isn’t needed, but it is just an example to show you how to block specific pages from specific crawlers.
In your case, you only want to block pages or folders that you need to block, so don’t just copy me as this is just an example.
So, now that we have an empty file, let’s start writing.
First, I’m going to add a comment, crawlers will ignore this, so it won’t affect the file.
To add a comment, just add a “#” symbol, and then write anything you want on the same line.
You do not need to add a comment, usually, they are used in more complicated robots.txt files to explain what does what.
Next, we will add the text that will block all crawlers from the wp-admin page.
To do this we will put “User-Agent:”, then add a space followed by an “*”.
This says “we are talking to all crawlers”.
Then, on the next line we will put “Disallow:”, followed by a space, and then “/wp-admin”.
This will disallow this specific page from being crawled by all crawlers.
That is the first part done.
Now, we will disallow the Googlebot from crawling the “contact” page.
So, type “User-Agent:”, followed by a space, and then “Googlebot”.
This line is telling the Googlebot to listen to this specific part of the file, and all other crawlers will ignore it.
On the next line type “Disallow”, followed by a space, and then “/contact”.
This will disallow the contact page from being crawled by the Googlebot.
And now we will do the same thing with the MSNBot, and blog it from crawling the contact page.
Once again, type “User-Agent:” followed by a space, and this time add “MSNBot”.
On the next line type “Disallow:”, space, then “/contact”.
Now we have successfully blocked the Googlebot and the MSNBot from crawling the contact page.
Finally, we will tell crawlers where our sitemap is located.
To do this, type in “Sitemap:”, space, and then enter the URL for your sitemap file.
This will tell all crawlers where our sitemap.xml file is located.
Save your file, and ensure that it is saved as a text document, and the file is named “robots.txt”.
You have now successfully created a robots.txt file for your website.
All that’s left is to upload the file to the root of your website, with all of your other webpages.
It is important to remember that you only need to block the pages and folders from crawlers that you require to be blocked.
You shouldn’t just copy exactly what I’ve done, and you definitely shouldn’t block your contact page from crawlers as it could result in fewer people finding that page organically.
This is just an example to help you understand how to create a robots.txt file.
You should now understand how to create a simple robots.txt file that is sufficient for your needs.
What Is Sitemap.xml?
A sitemap is an XML file that is saved to your web server and lists all of the pages within your website.
The sitemap helps search engines to crawl your website and understand the structure of the site so that they can index and rank each web page more accurately.
Sitemaps provide information about the website’s content, including:
- When each web page was last updated.
- Total images on each page.
- URLs for each web page.
Once you have generated your sitemap, you will need to submit it to search engines, for Google you will use the Google Search Console.
Why Is It Important To Generate A Sitemap?
It is recommended that all website have a sitemap, however, there are some cases where it is crucial:
- The website is new. If you have a new website, you should have a sitemap because you will have fewer backlinks meaning your web pages are more difficult for search engines to find organically.
- The website has many pages. If you have a big website, search engines are more likely to miss a page out, so adding a sitemap will show them the structure of your site helping them to find every single page.
It costs nothing to add a sitemap to your website, and it has many fantastic benefits, so it is worth generating one.
How To Generate A Sitemap For Your WordPress Website
There are many different tools and plugins that will generate a sitemap for your website without you having to do any complicated work.
If your website is running on WordPress, I suggest using the Yoast SEO plugin.
First, Install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin to your WordPress website.
Once the plugin is active, click “SEO”, on the menu located on the left of your WordPress dashboard.
Next click “General” on the expanded menu.
Now click onto the “Features” tab.
Finally, toggle the “XML Sitemaps” switch to “On”, and then click “Save Changes”.
You now have a sitemap for your WordPress website, generated by the Yoast SEO plugin.
How To Generate A Sitemap For Your Website
If you don’t run your website on a content management system like WordPress, there are still ways that you can generate a sitemap.
The tool that I suggest using is simply called XML-Sitemaps.
This tool will create a sitemap for a website which has up to 500 pages for free, but you will need to get the pro plan if you have more than 500 pages on your site.
To use this tool you just need to enter your website’s URL and then click “Start”.
You will then have to wait a couple of minutes for the sitemap to be generated.
Once it is done, click “Download your XML Sitemap file”.
When it has finished downloading, upload it to the domain root folder that all of your web pages are uploaded to.
You should then see your new sitemap at www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml
This tool will also validate your sitemap.
Go to the XML Sitemap Validator, then enter the Sitemap URL.
Once the URL is entered, click “Validate Sitemap”.
This will let you know if there are any issues with your sitemap.
What Is Website Security?
Website security also known as “cyber-security” is the process taken to protect a website from any possible security threats.
This includes detecting, preventing and responding to any security threats to ensure the website is secure and safe for users.
It is an ongoing process and is an essential part of running a website.
There are many different techniques and strategies that are used to secure a website from an attack.
Why Is Website Security Important?
It’s quite simple really, nobody wants their website to get hacked.
As well as that, no website user wants their data to be breached.
Having an un-secure website is just as bad as having no website at all!
Securing your website can do many things, including:
- Prevent data breaches
- Protect your reputation
- Gain customer trust and confidence
- Increase Google rankings
- Increase conversions
Of course, having a secure website will also do much more as well as all of this.
Common Security Threats
These are some of the most common threats that you need to secure your website from:
Malware stands for “malicious software”, there are many forms of malware, including spyware, trojans, viruses & more.
Essentially, it’s downloaded onto a web server and then accessed by the hacker, the thread varies depending on the type of malware.
- DDoS Attacks
A DDoS attack is a malicious attack which overwhelms a web server by flooding it with traffic which results in the website going offline.
- Brute Force
A brute force attack is quite a simple concept, the attacker programs a script that attempts multiple combinations of usernames and passwords until it finds one that works.
Then, the attacker can access the part of your website that they managed to log in to.
You must go through the right procedure of defending your website from these kinds of attacks.
How Can You Secure A Website?
We won’t go too in detail yet, but here are a few of the best ways to secure your website:
- Install an SSL Certificate
- Backup your website
- Install a security plugin
- Limit user access
- Keep software and plugins up to date
There are also many more techniques used to secure your website and defend it from attacks.
What Is An SSL Certificate?
An SSL is a certificate that you can install on your website.
SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”.
Having an SSL certificate installed on your site allows you to use the “https” in the address bar.
This encrypts the traffic between the website visitor, and the website itself.
Essentially, this protects any data which is sent between the visitor and the website.
This is especially important for websites that use passwords and credit card data, as the SSL certificate stops this information from being accessed by anyone else.
Having an SSL Certificate on your website is a ranking factor within Google, so having one can also increase search engine rankings.
Google mark websites that don’t have an SSL Certificate as “not secure”, whereas if your site does have one, it will receive a padlock which essentially says “this site is secure”.
43% of consumers abandon websites when they see security alert messages, so not having an SSL will decrease traffic and conversions.
You can install a trusted SSL Certificate for free, and it is becoming easier to install them onto websites.
Why Does Your Site Need An SSL Certificate?
There are many reasons why your website needs to have an SSL Certificate, but I’ll name the three that stand out.
Establish trust with website visitors:
If your site has an SSL Certificate installed, it will have a padlock in the search bar.
When users see that your website is secure, they are likely to trust your site, therefore making them more likely to make a purchase, or return in the future.
Improve your website’s SEO:
Google and other search engines check websites for an SSL Certificate before ranking each web page.
If you have an SSL Certificate installed, you are likely to earn a higher search engine ranking, as it shows that your site is secure.
Secure user data:
Securing your website with an SSL Certificate will encrypt the data that users enter into your website.
This secures your site from a data breach, making it more difficult for hackers to try and steal your user’s private data.
You can install an SSL Certificate in less than 10 minutes, so to secure your website, and improve your SEO, do it now.
How To Tell If A Website Has An SSL Certificate
When you visit a website there are a couple of key ways to see if it has an SSL certificate installed.
- The URL will say “https://” instead of “http://”.
You’ll see an extra “s” after the HTTP on the website’s URL.
- There will be a padlock next to the URL.
On site’s that have an SSL, you will see a padlock next to the URL, on Chrome it’s just to the left.
You can then click onto the padlock to see more information about the site and its SSL certificate.
- Use An SSL Checker.
An SSL checker will see if a website has an active SSL certificate.
You can also use an SSL checker to ensure you have properly installed an SSL certificate to your site.
I prefer using the comodo SSL checker, as it’s easy to use and is very fast.
Using the tool, you can see the details of the SSL Certificate that is installed.
Install A Security Plugin
If your website is run on a content management system like WordPress, or Shopify, there are plugins available that will secure your website.
The methods of security that the plugins offer can vary, for example, some limit failed login attempts, and others scan for malware.
Here are some of the best WordPress security plugins:
Wordfence is a free plugin that has some incredibly handy website security features.
Some of the features that this plugin offers include:
- Brute force protection by limiting failed login attempts.
- Password breach alerts.
- Web application firewall.
- Two-factor authentication setup.
- Monitor attempted security breaches.
In my opinion, this is the very best WordPress security plugin.
All in One WP Security & Firewall:
This is another free WordPress security plugin that covers pretty much everything.
This plugin is good for personal websites or small business websites.
Some features include:
- IP blocking & filtering.
- Limit login attempts.
- Strong password generator.
- Scan for malicious activity.
I’d say that this is not the most beginner-friendly security plugin as other plugins, so don’t pick this if you’re new to security plugins.
WPS Hide Login:
This free plugin allows you to change the URL for the login page.
By doing this, it makes it more difficult for hackers to try and get access to your website.
It is easy to set up, and from a security standpoint, it is massively beneficial.
The concept of this plugin is simple, it allows you to set up two-factor authentication on your website.
It’s free to use, easy to set up, adds an extra layer of security to your site, uses the Google Authenticator app for security codes.
You don’t need all of these plugins, I suggest using both Wordfence and WPS Hide Login.
Once you have installed and set up a security plugin, your site will become more secure, and less likely to be breached by viruses or hackers.
Backup Your Website
What would you do if you discovered that your website has been accidentally deleted?
Well, if you haven’t got it backed up, it is gone forever.
What Is A Website Backup?
A website backup is simply having your website files saved to a secondary location so that if your site is deleted for any reason, you be able to use your backup instead of having to start your site from scratch.
You could backup your website files to a secondary server, or offline to your computer.
Having a backup of your website is crucial for every single website owner, especially large sites, as they would take much longer to re-build.
Why Are Website Backups So Important?
There are many different reasons that show why it is so important to backup your website.
- It’s Your Responsibility
You can’t rely on other people to back up your website unless you have paid for a backup service.
If you want to be able to bring your site back online if it’s removed from the webserver or infected with a virus, you must ensure you periodically back it up.
- Protection Against Viruses
Even if you think your site is protected against viruses, they still may find a way in.
This means that the only way to be truly protected against viruses is to backup your site.
- Peace Of Mind
Of course, having an up to data backup of your site will also give you peace of mind, so you know you are safe if anything does happen.
It’s always good to know that the backup is there, so you can stay calm if your site is deleted, gets hacked, or becomes infected.
How Can You Backup Your Website?
Depending on the type of website that you run, there are multiple ways to backup your site.
- Automated Backup Solutions
If you don’t want to backup your website yourself, you can purchase an automated backup service.
Here are the two backup services that I recommend:
Backup unlimited websites, the small plan offers 10GB of storage, the large plan offers 30GB, or you can sign up to a custom plan which goes up to 1000GB.
There are three different plans, the smallest offers monthly backups with 200MB of storage, the medium plan offers weekly backups with 50GB storage, and the large plan offers daily backups with 600GB storage.
Pick your backup provider, sign up, and start automatically backing up your website.
- WordPress Website Backups
If your website runs on WordPress, there are several plugins that you can install to create backups of your WordPress website.
Here are my favourite WordPress backup plugins:
This is the most popular premium WordPress backup plugin.
With this plugin, you can schedule daily, weekly, and monthly website backups.
There are no monthly fees, you just pay once a year, and backup your site as much as you wish.
This is the most popular freemium WordPress backup plugin.
With this plugin, you can backup your WordPress website to the cloud or your computer.
You can also set up scheduled backups, and on-demand backups, as well as having the ability to choose exactly which files you want to backup.
This freemium plugin allows you to create complete WordPress backups and store them on the cloud, or to your computer.
This plugin also has a feature that allows you to schedule automatic backups.
All three of these plugins also allow you to restore your backup from within the WordPress dashboard.
It’s now down to you to pick the backup plugin that you prefer.
Once you have a backup plugin, remember to periodically backup your website to be safe from any potential problems.
- cPanel Backups
It is easy to backup your website using cPanel.
Follow this simple process to backup your website using cPanel:
Login to your cPanel control panel.
Click the “Backup Wizard” button.
Next, you get the option to choose between “backup”, and “restore”, of course, you want to click “backup”.
After that, you will get some specific backup options.
Decide whether you want to create a full backup or a partial backup.
In this example, we are going to select “full backup”.
Finally, download your backup.
Select the “Home Directory” backup destination, and enter your email address so that you know when your backup is complete.
Then click “Generate Backup”, and the backup will start being generated.
Make sure that you download your backup to your computer and keep it stored until you create a new backup.
Just remember to decide on at least one backup method, and backup your website periodically so that you are safe from the possibility of losing your website.
- Check your backups regularly to ensure all files work and are not corrupt.
- Backup your site periodically to include new pages and files.
- Choose a secure & reliable backup service.
- Backup your site to an offline hard drive.
It is crucial that you backup your site to be prepared for anything that could happen.
Limit User Access
The majority of cybersecurity attacks are the result of an administrative error.
There is only one way to prevent that, and that is to limit the number of people who can make those errors.
Not everyone needs to be able to access the back end of your website, so think about who you give access to.
If you are hiring a freelancer, or someone to do a specific job on your website, only give them the required access level.
For example, let’s say you are hiring a website designer to make some edits to the front end of your site, you should not need to give them access to your site’s settings.
Once their work is complete, you can revoke their access back to their regular role, or remove their access completely.
Three Ways That You Can Limit User Access:
- Create Separate Accounts For Each User
It is highly recommended that each person who has access to your site has their own account.
This will allow you to minimise security threats, and ensure that if there are any security breaches, the user at fault will be accountable.
Another reason not to share accounts is that if you want to remove access from a particular person, you will have to renew the password for everyone.
If everyone has their own account, and someone leaves your organisation, you can just delete their account.
- Assign Users Specific Roles
If you have multiple people working on your website, you can assign each account a specific role so that they can only access what is required for their work.
Depending on the type of website you have, the specific roles can vary.
For example, on a WordPress website, you give writers the “author” role, so that they can only access and edit posts on your website.
- Grant & Revoke User Permissions
Once everyone has their own account, and user-specific roles, you can tighten your security even more by adding and revoking specific permissions on each account.
Give each user the minimum amount of permissions they need to be able to complete their work.
Not every user will need to same permissions.
Then if someone leaves your workplace, you can revoke their permissions, or delete their account.
If you are hiring a freelancer for a short period of time, you can give them specific permissions that they require, and then remove them when the job is done.
So realistically, you just need to be smart and responsible with who you give access to, and what permissions each user receives.
What Are Broken Links?
Broken links are simply links that send visitors to a web page that no longer exists.
Here are some of the main reasons why a link might not work:
- The website’s URL structure has been changed.
- A web page has been moved without the old URL being redirected.
- The website that the link goes to is no longer available.
When a user clicks onto a broken link, they will be directed to a 404 page which explains why the web page is not available.
A user is less likely to return to your website if they encounter broken links while browsing your content, as it is just frustrating.
How Can You Check For Broken Links?
It is quite easy to check for broken links on your website, and it’s something you should do periodically to ensure all links, direct users, to live web pages.
There are two main ways that you can check for broken links on your website:
Use Google Search Console
Login to your Search Console account, and select the property that you want to check for broken links.
Click “Coverage” on the menu on the left of the dashboard.
De-select “Error”, and select “Excluded”.
Scroll down to see the details of pages that have been excluded.
Look for “Not found (404)”, and click it.
Scroll down to “Examples”, and you will see the URLs for all of your webpages that have broken links.
If any of these are URLs for pages that are now deleted, you can ignore them, or create a new page at same URL.
For all other URLs, you should redirect them to relevant pages on your website.
Use Ahrefs Broken Link Checker
First head over the broken link checker.
Once you are there, enter your domain or URL (I suggest entering the domain).
Then pick “Subdomains” on the dropdown box so that it searches for broken links everywhere on your site.
Click “Check broken links”.
You will then instantly get a report showing how many broken links there are on your website, and how many there are to your website.
If you scroll down below the total amount of broken links, you will also see the URL for each link.
Now you know what links you need to fix!
How Can You Fix A Broken Link?
Once you have found broken links on your site, you will want to fix them.
There are a few different methods you can use to fix a broken link.
- Redirect the broken link to another location.
You can redirect the URL to a relevant page on your website, or to the new location of the page that had a broken link.
- Create a new page at the broken URL.
Create a new page with updated content at the same location of the broken URL, all links to this URL will now take users to the new page.
After you have decided how you will go about fixing the broken link, you should reach out to any website that has linked to the URL and update them on the situation.
Technical SEO is a crucial part of any SEO plan that should be done on every website.
Using this step by step guide to technical SEO, you will be able to properly optimize your website to improve speed, security, usability, conversions, and more.
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