Technical SEO is not content optimisation (well, it is a bit), it’s not keyword research (actually some bits are) and it’s not web development (scratch that, it can help here too).
Is technical SEO the evolution of SEO? No, but it’s increasingly important. Is it old school SEO? Nope, it’s actually one of the most forward thinking areas of digital marketing!
Is technical SEO awesome? Yes, very!
Let’s put this into perspective a little bit; you’re looking to write some new content for your blog. Optimising this content and publishing on your site is just the beginning. There are a huge variety of technical elements to consider for this single page:
- Does it load quickly?
- Is it mobile friendly?
- Does the AMP page load properly?
- Have I used the appropriate search queries on ALT tags and titles?
- Do I have the right schema types added?
- Have I set up tracking on call to actions or download buttons?
And the list goes on…
Almost everything we do as digital marketers can be improved to some degree with the application of technical SEO. Removing the content; text, images, video etc from a site leaves us with a HTML blueprint that the search engines are going to have to discover, request, load, render and navigate. Ensuring that these building blocks are perfect can boost the existing value of any content put on top of it.
What is technical SEO?
Technical SEO enables search engines to crawl your site and index your content effectively, to ensure any given web page can achieve the best visibility possible. It can help search engines identify which pages to index, improve click-through rates through schema, and speed up the load times of your site.
Ultimately, technical SEO should be an integral part of any search marketing campaign an afterthought. Great SEOs know and understand the requirement for ensuring a website has the best foundations possible, they know that without this their content may never be found by search engines let alone appear high in the results.
3 quick ways to improve your technical SEO…
1. Keep an eye on the simple things
Technical doesn’t have to be complicated, most of the time a weekly checklist can help to ensure that things are running smoothly. Checking for error pages still receiving impressions or ensuring robots.txt file is updated to keep a clean crawl can make a big difference to the overall traffic of the site.
Other quick and simple actions include:
- Regular updates to your XML Sitemap (if it does not update dynamically of course)
- Keeping your CMS up to date (and checking the site still works correctly
- Checking the speed of new pages and making minor tweaks to assets
- Updating schema to include new supported elements
- Monitoring and measuring crawl rates and pages indexed by Google
- Improve HTML and coding skills until you are 100% awesome. (Learning to code will benefit you more than you think. Understanding HTML, CSS and JS will get your 75% of the way to being much more awesome at technical SEO.)
Learning some other programming languages to a basic level will get you another 20% of the way there. Languages such as php is almost a must but others such as asp.net can be very handy in many situations.
The other 5% is knowing what goes on with websites hosting, understanding this enables you to have efficient conversations with developers and hosting companies about server issues and potential solutions. It can help with wider aspects of your job too, keeping a good relationship with developers or clients is priceless.
2. Keep your site healthy
There are a variety of actions that fall into this category and some overlap with other areas mentioned above, but at the end of the day it all adds to the overall value of your website.
For example, ensuring that redirects are kept to an absolute minimum means users will rarely end up on a dead page guessing what to do next. Another important part of this is to ensure that your 404 page, when used, is informational and provides links to key locations within the website. Often, providing NAP (name, address, phone number) on 404 pages can help to increase leads even when the user lands on an error page.
Other items such as canonical URLs help to ensure the search engines index the correct pages. Too often I see a page with a random filter or sort parameter appended to the original URL ranking higher than the actual page. Ensuring the search engines are provided with a clear URL to index (sometimes one with set filter or sort parameters), ensures you are displaying the search engines and user the right information.
3. Track all the things!
Learn how to use Google Tag Manager. The jump from Analytics to basic tag management is not that big and the potential to track such a huge amount of things will leave you jumping for joy.
Advanced Tag Manager can be daunting so make sure you brush up on your regular expressions and CSS / DOM elements to ensure your track the right thing.
Learning how to use the preview container mode properly is also a very good idea. You can track in real time when your tags are firing, when they are not and what they are reporting back to the data layer.
What are your top tips for technical SEO?