The Technical Side of SEO – Backend Strategies for Irish Websites

Technical SEO focuses on optimizing the backend elements of a website—those that are not immediately visible to users but are crucial for search engine algorithms. With the internet increasingly becoming the first point of contact between businesses and potential customers, you want to ensure all ground is covered.


The Symbiosis of SEO Components

SEO can be broken down into three distinct categories – each being important:

  • On-Page SEO deals with the content on your website, optimizing it to ensure search engines and readers grasp the subject matter. This includes tweaking elements like meta descriptions, image alt text, and internal linking.
  • Off-Page SEO focuses on building your site’s reputation and authority through backlinks, essentially votes of confidence from other sites.
  • Technical SEO might be less intuitive but is within your control. It ensures that your site meets the technical requirements of modern search engines for improved indexing and ranking​.


Here, we will focus on the latter.


Building Blocks of Technical SEO


Key aspects include ensuring your domain is set up correctly, implementing SSL for security (marked by “https://” in your web address), and optimizing page speed. Google prioritizes sites that load quickly and securely, making these factors non-negotiable for anyone serious about their online presence​.


Structured data also comes into focus, especially for ecommerce sites. This involves organizing and tagging information on your pages in a way that search engines can easily understand the context of your content, enhancing the accuracy of search results displayed to users. Implementing structured data can not only boost your site’s visibility in search results but also improve click-through rates by presenting key information directly in search results​.


Ecommerce giants and small businesses also use technical SEO to streamline their site architecture, making it straightforward for both users and search engines to navigate their offerings. From reducing the clicks from homepage to checkout to employing schema markups for clearer, more informative product listings, every element is a step towards higher SERP rankings and better user experience​.


SEO-Friendly Hosting for Irish Websites


When selecting a hosting provider for Irish websites, your choice directly impacts critical aspects such as site availability, security, and speed—all factors that search engines like Google evaluate when ranking sites. If your website frequently suffers from slow responses or significant downtime, it can be penalised by lowering its ranking or even excluding it from search results, perceiving it as unreliable.


So first look into a high uptime guarantee. Go for services that offer at least 99.9% uptime to ensure your website remains consistently accessible to both users and search engines, which is vital for maintaining your search engine rankings. Additionally, the server location should be chosen based on your target audience’s proximity to minimize response times, enhancing site speed and SEO rankings. Providers that offer SEO-friendly add-ons such as SSL certificates, scalable hosting plans, and automatic data backups can further secure and boost your site’s performance.


It’s also essential to choose a hosting provider with robust customer support and a strong market reputation. Responsive support available 24/7 via various channels can help quickly address any issues, reducing potential downtime. Before making a final decision, researching customer reviews and seeking recommendations on credible “Top Web Hosts” lists can provide insights into the provider’s reliability, customer service quality, and overall user satisfaction.


Effective Website Navigation


The core of website navigation lies in its ability to guide users smoothly from one page to another, enabling them to find the information they seek without hassle. This seamless navigability is crucial for retaining visitors, reducing bounce rates, and encouraging engagement. Similarly, search engines leverage your site’s navigation to discover and index new pages, using links to comprehend the content and context of each page, as well as the relationships between them. Keeping users as the top priority, ensure your navigation design is user-centric, then align it with search engine optimization without compromising the user experience​.


Strategic Use of Internal Linking


Internal linking is a powerful tool for connecting your pages, signifying their relevance and relationship to search engines. Employing a content pillar and cluster strategy not only aids in establishing a robust internal link network but also helps in organizing content in a manner that’s logical both for users and for search engine algorithms. When you link related pages, like connecting a recipe page to your blog post on cooking tips, you create a smooth flow that makes it easier for visitors to navigate and boosts the importance of your pages across your site.


Optimizing Navigation for Accessibility and Efficiency


This can make a big difference in how visitors experience your website. Take adding a sticky navigation menu for instance – it stays at the top of the screen as users scroll, always giving them easy access to other pages. Use clear, simple labels for your links so everyone can understand them and find their way around easily. Also, organize your content logically into main categories and subcategories to help users quickly find what they’re looking for. This navigation should also work smoothly on mobile.


Choosing the right type of navigation menu, be it horizontal, vertical, or a dropdown, depends on the amount of content and the desired user experience. Larger sites with extensive content might benefit from dropdown menus to avoid clutter, while smaller sites could opt for a simpler horizontal or vertical menu. It’s important to design your menu with both user needs and SEO in mind, ensuring that the most important pages are easily accessible and properly categorized to improve search engine visibility​.


Make sure your pages are just a few clicks away from the homepage and that your URLs are clean and descriptive. Adding breadcrumbs to your pages helps show the path visitors have taken to get there, which also clarifies your site’s layout to search engines. This makes it easier for them to crawl and understand your content. Also place your internal links strategically and categorize the content under relevant pillars and clusters.


The Role of SSL and HTTPS in SEO


SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encrypts data passing between a web server and a browser, so that any interaction on your website is secure and private. A website with SSL switches from HTTP to HTTPS, which you can recognize by the padlock icon in the browser’s address bar.


This sends a positive signal to Google, that your website is committed to protecting user data – an extra boost to your your site’s search engine ranking compared to non-secure HTTP sites. Moreover, the presence of the padlock icon reinforces user trust, which can increase site engagement, reduce bounce rates. It’s particularly important for websites that handle sensitive information, such as personal details and login credentials.


To fully benefit from SSL, ensure you obtain a certificate from a reputable authority, switch all internal links to HTTPS, implement 301 redirects from HTTP to preserve link equity, and avoid mixed content issues by securing all page elements. Updating your sitemaps and robots.txt files to reflect the HTTPS URLs will help search engines crawl and index your site more effectively.


HTTPS also enables the use of modern web technologies and standards, including HTTP/2 for improved website performance. 


Optimizing Page Speed


Faster page loads can significantly impact visitor engagement, bounce rates, and ultimately, search engine visibility. What can you do here?

  1. Compress and Optimize Images: Images often account for the bulk of a webpage’s size. For online retail stores, product images are fundamental to sales. These websites typically feature multiple images per product to provide a detailed look at items from various angles. Real estate websites on the other hand rely on high-resolution images to showcase their properties. These images are critical as they help potential buyers get a detailed view of properties before deciding to visit. With the travel and hospitality sector, you have beautiful, enticing images of destinations and accommodations to draw in tourists and travelers. Tour companies, hotels, and BnB agents use them to inspire visitors and encouraging bookings.


Since the images are a core part of the marketing process, and you also don’t want to sacrifice page speed in the process, a workaround is needed. Utilizing tools like WP Smush for WordPress can automate the compression of images uploaded to the media library, reducing file sizes without noticeably degrading quality. For non-WordPress sites, options like Caesium and Mass Image Compressor offer similar benefits​​.


  1. Clean and Minify Code: Removing unnecessary characters from your website’s CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files through minification helps reduce their size, thereby improving load times. Tools and plugins, such as Autoptimize for WordPress, automate this process, streamlining your website’s code without altering its functionality​.

Some of the unnecessary code include:


    • Unused Code: Remove functions or scripts that are no longer called or needed. For example, you might have legacy code from features that have been phased out.
    • Long Variable Names: While descriptive variable names are helpful during development, they can be shortened during the minification process.
    • Redundant Attributes: Sometimes, HTML elements have attributes like type=”text” for input fields, which are not necessary as they are default behaviors.


  1. Upgrade Your Hosting Solution: Investing in premium hosting can drastically improve page speed. Shared hosting environments, often appealing due to their low cost, can lead to slower loading times due to shared resources among numerous websites. Considering a dedicated server or a premium hosting service is advisable for significant speed improvements. Here is a quick breakdown:


    • Small Businesses and Personal Websites – Shared Hosting: This is typically the most cost-effective option, where your website resides on a server shared with other websites. It’s ideal for smaller websites with lower traffic volumes, such as local businesses, personal blogs, or portfolios. Since traffic is generally manageable, the limited resources in shared hosting are usually sufficient.
    • Growing Startups and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) – VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting: For businesses experiencing growth in traffic and those needing to install custom applications or software, VPS hosting offers a good balance. It still involves sharing a server with others but provides dedicated portions of the server’s resources. This allows for better performance and more flexibility compared to shared hosting, accommodating moderate traffic increases without significant slowdowns.
    • E-commerce Sites and High Traffic Websites – Dedicated Server Hosting: If your website sees high traffic or handles sensitive transactions, like in the case of e-commerce platforms, a dedicated server is ideal. This setup allocates an entire server to your website, ensuring maximum control, security, and resource availability. High traffic websites benefit from faster loading times and reduced downtime, crucial for maintaining sales and user satisfaction.
    • Large Corporations and Enterprises – Cloud Hosting or Enterprise Hosting Solutions: Corporations with significant website traffic, requiring high uptime, robust security, and extreme scalability, should look towards cloud hosting or managed enterprise solutions. These options offer extensive resources and scalability, meaning that server capacity can dynamically adjust to sudden spikes in traffic. This is also suitable for businesses with global reach needing consistent performance across different geographies.


  1. Implement a CDN: It speeds up content delivery by hosting your site’s files on a network of servers worldwide, ensuring that users receive data from the server closest to them. This is especially beneficial for Irish websites targeting a global audience​.


  1. Browser Caching: This stores elements of your site on visitors’ devices on their first visit, which means that subsequent visits will be much quicker since the browser can load these elements from local storage rather than from the server. Tools like W3 Total Cache for WordPress can help implement effective caching strategies​.


  1. Utilize Asynchronous and Defer Loading: Loading CSS and JavaScript files asynchronously or deferring their load until after the main content has significantly improved page loading times. What do these mean?


When you load scripts asynchronously, the browser can continue to parse the rest of the HTML document while the script is being fetched. This means the script downloads in the background and gets executed only after it’s fully downloaded, without blocking the rendering of other elements on the page. Say you have an analytics tracking script like Google Analytics on your site. This script is crucial for gathering site usage data but not for the initial page render. By loading this script asynchronously, the main content of your page (like text and images) can load and become visible to the user without waiting for the analytics code to load, thereby improving perceived loading time.


Deferring the loading of scripts means instructing the browser to hold off on script execution until after the HTML document has been fully parsed. Unlike asynchronous loading, deferred scripts are executed only after the document is completely ready. So suppose your website uses a JavaScript library to enhance UI components such as sliders, dropdowns, or modals. These elements are not typically required until after the main content has been displayed. By deferring these scripts, your site can first load all the HTML and CSS, rendering the basic layout and content to the user. The JavaScript library loads last, ensuring the page is interactive without a delay in initial access.


WP Rocket is a WordPress plugin that facilitates these optimizations with minimal configuration​.


  1. Enable Compression: GZip compression can significantly reduce the size of your website’s files before they are sent to the browser. This can be enabled through your web hosting control panel or .htaccess file, making it a straightforward yet powerful optimization step​.


  1. Monitor and Test Page Speed Regularly: Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Semrush’s Website Speed Test offer detailed insights into your website’s performance, highlighting areas for improvement and tracking the effectiveness of your optimization efforts over time​.


For instance product gallery page featuring large images or even 360-degree view videos will load slower compared to a simple contact page with minimal images and mostly text. The heavier media content consumes more bandwidth, thus taking longer to load.  Pages that integrate live feeds from social media or rely heavily on external scripts for user reviews and comments can load slower than pages without these elements. Each script that needs to fetch data from external sources can introduce delays. On the other hand, a page hosting an interactive tool, such as a custom design widget or a dynamic search filter, will generally load slower than a static privacy policy page. This is due to the processing power required to run interactive elements and dynamically generate content based on user inputs. So here you want to identify the cause, so as to deal with it.


  1. Optimize for Core Web Vitals: The metrics reflect the real-world experience of users and are increasingly important for search engine rankings​. They include:
    • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures how long it takes for the largest piece of content on your page (like an image or block of text) to fully display. It helps you understand how quickly visitors can see the main content after landing on your page.
    • First Input Delay (FID): This tracks the time from when a user first interacts with your site (like clicking a link or tapping on a button) to when the browser is actually able to start processing that interaction. It’s all about measuring the responsiveness of your site.
    • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures how much the content on your page shifts around as it loads. A low CLS means your page is stable as it loads, without unexpected movement that could confuse or frustrate your visitors.


Mobile Optimization for Irish Audiences


By early 2023, platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok were already seeing widespread use across different demographics in Ireland:


  • Facebook reaches 59.4% of the eligible audience, indicating a substantial number of users accessing the platform via mobile​​.
  • YouTube boasts a 79.8% penetration rate of the total population, underscoring the platform’s mobile accessibility and usage​​.
  • Instagram and TikTok also show considerable mobile user bases, with 54.7% and 55.1% of the eligible audience, respectively, highlighting the appeal of these platforms among mobile users​​.


This mobile usage extends to browsing business websites. Besides, your social media marketing efforts will be disadvantaged if the traffic they direct to your site simply ends up bouncing off because of poor UX. To cater to the mobile-first audience, here are some key areas that you should focus on:


  1. Responsive Design: What’s the feel of your website and its features across all different screen sizes and resolutions? You want a design that can adapt to them. 
  2. Page Speed: Mobile users expect quick loading times. Optimize images, minify code, and use browser caching to improve your site’s speed.
  3. User Experience: Simplify navigation, use legible font sizes, and ensure interactive elements are easily clickable to enhance the overall mobile user experience.
  4. Local SEO: This includes accurate listings on maps and local directories, local keywords, and mobile-friendly location pages.


Structured Data and Schema Markup


Structured data uses’s guidelines to organize and label the information on your webpage clearly. This setup helps generate what’s called a rich snippet, which is an enhanced description that appears in search engine results. Major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex have supported this approach since 2011.


While there’s no definitive evidence that structured data directly improves your search rankings, it certainly enhances the visibility of your pages in search results. Rich snippets provide more detailed information about your content, making your listings more attractive and likely to get clicks from potential visitors. Given that currently less than a third of Google search results incorporate schema markup, adopting this method could really help differentiate your website from competitors in your field.


  1. Choose the Right Markup: Determine the most relevant schema markup for your content, whether it’s for articles, local businesses, events, or other categories. For instance, companies seeking to attract nearby customers, including retail stores, service providers, and restaurants could benefit greatly from a local business markup. It allows Google to display detailed business information, like a local knowledge panel or directly in Google Maps, enhancing local SEO efforts. On the other hand, an organization schema markup is ideal for businesses, nonprofits, and institutions wishing to provide explicit business-related details to users.
  2. Select a Method: There are three primary methods to implement schema markup: JSON-LD (recommended by Google for its simplicity), Microdata, and RDFa. JSON-LD is particularly favored for its ease of use and efficient implementation​.
  3. Use Tools for Creation and Testing: Tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and Rich Results Test can aid in creating schema markup without deep coding knowledge and verify the markup’s correctness on your webpages​​.


The URL Factor


Advanced URL Structure: URLs should be easy to read by both users and search engines. A URL like is far more descriptive and SEO-friendly than


While the significance of keywords in URLs for ranking has evolved, a URL containing relevant keywords can improve user understanding and click-through rates from SERPs. It’s a balancing act – including pertinent keywords without overcomplicating the URL.


Remember to standardize URL structures across the site. This includes using a consistent approach to capitalization, using hyphens instead of underscores, and deciding on the inclusion or exclusion of trailing slashes.


Canonical URLs: Canonical tags (<link rel=”canonical” href=”…”>) are needed to show search engines which version of a duplicate page is the main, or “canonical,” version. It’s especially important for Irish e-commerce sites where product listings might be accessible through multiple URLs created by filters or session IDs. The canonical tags helps prevent confusion by clearly indicating which URL is the definitive one, ensuring the correct page is indexed and avoiding SEO issues related to duplicate content. The search engines index and present only the specified canonical page in search results, thus consolidating link equity and improving page authority.


Canonical tags should be placed in the <head> section of the HTML of the page. For non-HTML resources, such as PDFs, canonical tags can also be implemented via HTTP headers.  Use canonical tags when dealing with URL parameters that don’t change the page content, for syndicated content, or for similar pages that you wish to treat as a single entity in search results.


Best Practices

  • Use Absolute URLs: Absolute URLs in canonical tags avoid confusion and ensure search engines understand the exact page you’re referring to.
  • Self-referencing Canonical Tags: Even if a page doesn’t have duplicates, including a self-referential canonical tag can preempt potential duplicate content issues, especially with dynamically generated URLs.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of your site’s canonical tags to ensure they are implemented correctly, using tools like Google Search Console or specialized SEO platforms.


Sitemap and Robot.txt Optimization


Working on your sitemap and robots.txt files helps direct search engine crawlers around your website to make sure they index your content effectively. Your XML sitemap points out the pages that are crucial and need crawling, while your robots.txt file manages crawler access to your site, specifying which areas they should skip. These optimizations are key to ensuring that search engines understand which parts of your site to focus on and which to ignore.


XML Sitemap Optimization

  • Inclusion of Relevant Pages: Your sitemap should list all SEO-relevant pages. Exclude any duplicate content, non-canonical pages, or URLs that you don’t want to be indexed, like admin pages or pages with sensitive information​​.
  • Use of <lastmod> Tag: This tag indicates when a page was last modified, providing search engines with information on content freshness. However, it’s noted that while some search engines, like Bing, consider the <lastmod> tag crucial, its importance may vary across different search engines​.
  • File Size and URL Limits: Keep your XML sitemap within the 50MB file size limit and under 50,000 URLs. For larger sites, consider splitting your sitemap into multiple files or using a sitemap index file.
  • Submission to Search Engines: After creating or updating your sitemap, submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools for faster indexing​.


Robots.txt Optimization

  • Correct Blocking: Ensure you are not inadvertently blocking search engines from crawling important pages. Use the robots.txt file to manage crawler access to content that doesn’t need to be indexed, such as duplicate pages or internal search results.
  • Sitemap Reference: Including the path to your XML sitemap within the robots.txt file can help search engines find and index your content more efficiently​.
  • Avoid Mixed Signals: Ensure there’s no conflict between your robots.txt and sitemap files. If a URL is blocked by robots.txt, it should not be listed in your sitemap, as this sends mixed signals to search engines​.


Do you add or remove pages from your website often? Then you its advisable to use dynamic sitemaps. They automatically update to mirror any changes on your site, making sure that your latest pages are picked up by search engines. 


Handling 404 Errors and Redirects


404 errors occur when a user tries to access a page on your website that doesn’t exist. These errors can arise from broken links on web pages, social media, or email messages. While Google states that a certain amount of 404s are acceptable, too many can signal a high error rate to search engines, potentially reducing their trust in your site. It’s crucial not to have search engines like Google waste crawl budget on non-existent pages when they could be indexing valuable content instead​​.


Best Practices for Handling 404 Errors

  • Regular Monitoring: Use tools such as Google Search Console to identify 404 errors. This platform can show you the broken pages Google’s crawlers have found, offering insights into your site’s indexing issues​​.
  • Effective Use of Redirects: Implementing 301 redirects for broken internal links signals to search engines that the page has moved permanently, helping to preserve page rankings and link equity. For WordPress, Wix, or Shopify users, platforms often have built-in methods for managing these redirects​​.
  • Maintain a Functional 404 Page: A well-designed 404 page can mitigate negative user experiences by guiding them back to relevant sections of your website or to the homepage. For eCommerce sites, consider directing users to similar products or categories​.
  • Fixing Broken Links: Update or remove broken links. For internal links, point them to the correct URLs. For external links that no longer exist, remove the hyperlink or find a suitable replacement​​.


Preventing 404 errors is just as important as handling them. Maintain a consistent URL structure and verify all links before publishing new content. Link to reliable external sources to minimize the risk of broken external links too.

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