Technical SEO Checklist: Under the Hood of High-Performing Websites

Imagine setting off on a journey, the road stretching before you, clear and inviting. The vehicle you’re in is a marvel of modern engineering—a blend of technology and design so advanced yet so intuitive, it feels like an extension of yourself. Each component, from the engine's purr to the navigation system's soft glow, works together to make the ride effortless. Now, envision your website operating with that same level of sophistication: swift, secure, and smart—each element finely calibrated for peak performance thanks to an SEO technical checklist.

Just as regular car inspections are critical for a smooth ride, periodic website audits are essential for marketing success. They’re the digital version of a multi-point inspection, checking everything from the engine beneath the hood—your site's coding and indexing—to the polish on the paintwork—your user interface and content.

The origins of this multi-point inspection framework for SEO can be traced back to a pivotal moment during a pitch to a major automotive supplier. It was there that the idea crystallized: an SEO audit should be as comprehensive as a vehicle inspection, yet as understandable as a traffic light system—red for critical issues, yellow for cautions, and green for good to go. This isn't about presenting a utopian vision where every website we touch magically transforms. It's about clarity and prioritization. We know all too well that the gears of marketing and IT don't always mesh seamlessly. 

Much like maintaining the complex systems within a car, the reality is that not everyone knows—or does—everything they should. I designed this framework to bridge that gap, assigning clear signals to the technical elements so both teams can see what needs to be done, understand its impact, and drive forward together.

Equipped with the right insights from a thorough SEO audit, your website is set to deliver not just traffic, but a journey that leads to conversions, loyalty, and growth.

Crawling & Indexing: The Web's Roadmap


Search engines need a clear path to navigate your website. "Crawling & Indexing" ensures your site's roads are marked and open for travel.

  • Indexability: The green light for search engines. It's essential for making your pages findable, ensuring they appear in your audience's search results.
  • Site Structure and Navigation: Your site's layout matters. A logical structure is like a well-planned city grid that helps visitors and search engines intuitively find their way around.
  • XML Sitemap: The comprehensive map for search engines, detailing every destination (page) on your site. It ensures no important page is overlooked.
  • Robots.txt: The rulebook for search engine bots, telling them where they can and can't go on your site, guiding them away from private or under-construction areas.
  • 301 Redirects and Response Codes: These are your detours and road signs. They keep traffic moving correctly, ensuring visitors land where they're supposed to, even if a page has moved or doesn't exist anymore.
  • 404 Error Handling and Crawl Errors: Fixing dead ends and errors is crucial. It prevents users and search engines from hitting frustrating roadblocks.
  • JavaScript Rendering: As many sites use JavaScript for dynamic content, ensuring search engines can fully access and index this content is like making sure all features in a modern car are usable.

Addressing the issues with "Crawling & Indexing" sets up your website for success, making it easy for search engines and users to explore everything you offer. It's not just about visibility; it's about accessibility and navigability.

On-Page SEO: Tuning the Content Engine

On-Page SEO is the process of finely tuning the elements on your website's pages—like optimizing a car for peak performance. Each adjustment ensures that your site not only runs smoothly but is also designed to attract both search engines and human visitors.

  • Canonical Tags: These are like GPS coordinates for search engines, directing them to the original location of your content. By clearly marking the master copy among duplicates, we help search engines navigate to the correct address, avoiding the confusion of similar streets.
  • Title & Meta Tags: Think of these as the model and make on your vehicle—distinct, descriptive, and the first impression people see. They're crucial in making your pages pop in the lineup of search results, beckoning users to take a closer look.
  • Internal Cross Linking: This system works like an advanced transit network within your site, guiding visitors effortlessly from one page to another. It ensures that the authority, much like traffic flow, is well-distributed, leading to a comprehensive and interconnected experience.
  • URL Structure: SEO-friendly URLs are the clearly marked exits and street signs of the web, providing both users and search engines with easy-to-follow directions and ensuring that every page is just a turn away
  • Heading Tags: Instead of billboards, think of headings as the overhead road signs that guide travelers through each section of your site. They are essential for navigation, breaking the journey into legible and manageable parts.
  • Structured Data: This is the coding equivalent of a vehicle’s advanced telemetry, offering search engines detailed insights about your content. It's the technology that powers those standout features in search results, like star ratings and rich snippets.
  • Duplicate and Thin Content: Addressing these issues is like streamlining your car’s body for aerodynamics. It removes unnecessary weight and drag, making sure every piece of content has a clear purpose and contributes to the overall performance.
  • Alt Tags (Image Alt Attributes): Providing alt tags for images is similar to having clear labels on a car's dashboard. It allows search engines, which rely on text to 'see' images, to understand the context and relevance, enhancing your site’s usability and visibility.

By optimizing these on-page elements, you're not just making your site more attractive to search engines. You're also improving the user experience, ensuring visitors find what they're looking for and enjoy the journey on your site.

Site Speed & Performance: Streamlining for Efficiency


Optimizing your website's Site Speed & Performance is akin to tuning a car for better fuel efficiency and faster acceleration. Every millisecond shaved off your load time can improve user satisfaction and boost your search rankings.

  • PageSpeed: This is the turbocharger of your website. Just as a turbocharger increases an engine's efficiency and power, optimizing PageSpeed propels your site to load faster, significantly enhancing the user experience. A swift-loading page keeps visitors engaged, reducing bounce rates and signaling to search engines that your site is worth ranking higher.
  • Page Resources: These are the quality parts—images, CSS, JavaScript—that your website engine needs to perform at its best. Ensuring these resources are optimized and accessible to search engines is like making sure your car has the best possible inputs—clean fuel, optimal oil, and efficient parts. It's about making every component work seamlessly to create a smooth, fast-loading experience.
  • HTTP Headers: These can be thought of as the tuning settings for your website’s engine, controlling how content is cached, what content type is served, and more. Properly configured HTTP Headers can significantly improve site performance by instructing browsers on how to handle your content, reducing load times and server strain. It's like fine-tuning your car's ECU (Engine Control Unit) for optimal performance under various conditions.

Optimizing these factors ensures your website runs as efficiently as possible, delivering not just a smoother and faster user experience but also paving the way for increased engagement and higher conversion rates—making every second count towards your business goals.

Site Accessibility & Security: Essential for Trust and Functionality


Focusing on Site Accessibility & Security is about ensuring trust and a seamless experience, whether visitors are on a desktop or using their phone on-the-go.

  • Mobile Usability: Mobile devices are not just accessories; they're the primary tool for web access for many. A site with strong mobile usability is like a car with a responsive steering system; it handles well no matter the road or weather conditions, providing a smooth experience for all.
  • HTTPS: Securing your site with SSL certification is the seatbelt and airbag system of your online presence—it's essential for safety. It encrypts data and maintains privacy, keeping both your business and customers secure. Moving to HTTP/2 adds lane assist—it's the latest standard, optimizing for speed and safety in data transfer. Just as seatbelts and airbags are non-negotiable in vehicles, SSL and HTTP/2 are non-negotiable in safeguarding your website’s visitors and their data.

Optimizing these factors ensures your website runs as efficiently as possible, delivering not just a smoother and faster user experience but also paving the way for increased engagement and higher conversion rates—making every second count towards your business goals.

Final Check-Up: Grading Your Website's Technical SEO Health

Just as a vehicle undergoes a rigorous inspection to determine its fitness for the road, your website deserves a comprehensive evaluation to gauge its SEO health. At Acadia, we don't just look under the hood; we implement a detailed scoring system to precisely assess where your site stands and what it needs to excel.

  • A (90-100%): Excellent - Your site demonstrates robust SEO health, cruising smoothly in the digital fast lane. While no immediate action is required, we recommend regular audits to maintain top performance.
  • B (80-89%): Good - With solid SEO health, your site is on the right track. Some tweaks can turbocharge your results, enhancing visibility and user engagement.
  • C (70-79%): Fair - Your site's SEO health is decent, but it's not reaching its full potential. Focusing on key improvements will elevate your performance and drive better outcomes.
  • D (60-69%): Poor - Caution: Your site lags behind in SEO health, risking visibility and traffic. Prompt, targeted actions are crucial to get back in the race.
  • F (0-59%): Failing - Immediate overhaul required. Critical SEO issues are throttling your site's performance, necessitating urgent fixes to avoid being left in the digital dust.

Our comprehensive SEO audit acts as your roadmap through the competitive landscape, identifying not just the potholes but also the fastest routes to success. Whether you're aiming to maintain an excellent grade or looking to improve from a lower tier, our tailored strategies help every aspect of your site from speed to security achieve peak performance.

Shift Into High Gear with Acadia

Are you ready to take your website's performance to the next level? If you want to ensure your site is running and racing ahead, it's time to talk to us at Acadia. We apply a rigorous SEO framework that diagnoses and refines every aspect of your site's functionality.

Contact us to explore how a thorough SEO audit can transform your website into a sleek, powerful, and high-performing asset for your business.

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Scott Walldren