For those looking for a definition, Technical SEO is a term used to describe improvements (also referred to as optimization) to a target website that are focused on what software (ie. algorithms, spiders, etc) sees when it crawls, indexes, or assigns credibility in determining the “value” of the target url. Simply put, the goal of Technical SEO is to improve a target website’s rank by making it more efficiently able to communicate it’s value to search engines.
If you are somewhat wise to what Search Engine Optimization is and how it benefits websites, you may be confused as to why we had to come up with a special term for technical improvements. The easy explanation is that it takes a depth of technical knowledge most Firms or Agencies don’t have a constant need for and outsource that part of a campaign to a web development company. Thus, creating a new service and avenue to charge clients.
I know, that seems a little bleak, but that’s our opinion and you will not find any credentials claiming to be an industry historian or archivist. The reason Technical SEO exists in it’s current iteration is most companies don’t want to do it themselves.
- What are the most common tasks of Technical SEO?
- How does Technical SEO improve organic search ranking?
What are the most common tasks of Technical SEO?
Excellent question! You might be surprised to learn that technical seo tasks are centered around the principle of creating the best online resource possible for a given audience or service. As stated earlier, the goal of Technical SEO is to make it as easy as possible for users and web crawlers to find information on a website. So, what are some of the tasks involving technical site improvements?
- Ensuring Secure Socket Layer (aka SSL certificate) is active – The SSL is a security protocol that establishes an encrypted link between a server and an internet browser. The easiest way to tell a website it utilizing this system is the URL starting with ‘https:’. In 2014, Google announced they want HTTPS everywhere and sites utilizing SSL protocols would rank higher.
- Mobile Optimization – Ensuring the site performance on mobile phone browsers is fast to load and displays properly. This usually involves edits to the design, removing unused elements, proper image sizing, and readability improvements.
- Page Speed Improvements – It’s no secret, users and search engines love fast, responsive websites. Some techniques to improve site speed are improving host speeds, minimizing http requests, finding a fast Domain Name Server (DNS) provider, properly sizing images, using 1 CSS stylesheet instead of multiple, compressing web pages, and eliminating excessive code.
- Fix Duplicate Content Issues – content creators tend to speak about similar or the same subject matters and could wind up having 2 or more pages competing for attention for the same keyword. To fix this issue, developers will us canonical links (tells search engines and users what is the main page and what other pages are just adding information to support that main page) and preventing the CMS from publishing multiple versions of a page.
- Creating or Optimizing an XML Site Map – This is simply a file that helps search engines to understand what is found on a website. A great way to think about this feature is to imagine giving a search engine a detailed map of your entire site, it’s contents, when things were improved, prioritization of pages, and how frequently the site is edited.
- AMP Utilization – AMP HTML is code designed for speed up content delivery for mobile phones, improving dwell times, increases the likelihood of content being shared by visitors, and improving user experience.
- Schema Markup – Microsoft’s gift to web developers is a code snippet that communicates to search engines relevant content found on your site. Allowing search engines to better index or catalog a website.
- Registering the Site with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools – these free software applications are easy ways to test the site’s mobile performance, accessing organic search results, viewing backlinks, disallowing backlinks, and much more
As you can see, it takes a solid understanding of web development, user experience, software engineering, and cyber architecture to properly complete some of these tasks. By no means does it take an industry expert, but it does need to be said that if you don’t what you are doing, you could cause a lot more harm than good. Even seasoned SEO veterans have companies or individuals they trust to handle these tasks to ensure they are done correctly.
How does Technical SEO improve organic search ranking?
As much as we believe that computers are infallible, the truth is they only do what they are told to do, nothing more. Technical SEO is meant to expressly communicate to search engines what your website content is about, demonstrate it’s authority on the subject matter, and that it has the best user experience possible to justify a high ranking slot for those querying the web. The results of good technical improvements will be an increase in organic search results or a further widening of the gap between competitors for a given keyword.
When done correctly, the site ranks highly for desired keywords, users are hanging out and exploring the site, visitors are converting to customers, and people are finding value on the site. Search Engines like Google track anything and everything we do and it takes notes. If it sees users having a better experience or getting answers to their questions on your platform more than others, you rank higher than those other sites. Simple as that.
However, the question has to be asked, “Why doesn’t everyone just build a site right the first time?”
Again, excellent question! Our theory is that a lot developers, firms, and agencies focus on certain aspects of search engine optimization such as the flow, menu structure, social proof, contact form optimization, calls to action, imagery, copywriting, and other features found on websites that the technical side tends to not get the careful attention it deserves.
Another common reason could be that different SEO service providers, Web Designers, or Web Developers could have opposing opinions on how to implement technical edits. Thus making it a challenge to determine what the best presentation would be for the desired audience online.
Regardless of why technical issues are present, technical audits should be conducted on every site at least once per month. Remember, SEO is a fluid and everchanging pseudoscience that is reacting to what Google and other search engines are doing to improve the credibility of their query results. One of the more recent alterations to Google was the increased crackdown on “spam” in Google search results. Spam was defined as copied or duplicate content, poorly formatted and structured information, sites that have authority but users don’t find the content engaging or helpful, and more.
As you can see, Technical SEO is not exceedingly complex or some hard to grasp concept. At it’s core, it is making a website the best version of itself by allowing better communication with search engines and users. In our view, it has become mandatory to compete in today’s online world. Search engines have forever shaped the way users and companies conduct themselves online and we have to do more to stay relevant.
If you want to be found by those looking for services or products like yours on the web, you have to pay attention to the tools that enable search engines to find, index, and rank websites. After all, it’s their sandbox, we can just play in it.