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December 10, 2018
Technical SEO: 7 Questions & Answers
What is Technical SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the art and science of optimizing a website for search engines, crawlers/bots, and indexation/rankings. Over the years, it has morphed a few times, but the baseline had always been the same. In the past, SEO was used to optimize websites specifically for rankings. While it included Technical SEO as well, its focus was mainly on getting a website ranked using keyword stuffing, and meta tag manipulation.
Today, Technical SEO is its own element, and its purpose is to ensure that your website is healthy in terms of supporting the User Experience (UX), as well as the crawlability by search engines.
Technical SEO includes the following components (not exhaustive):
- Review indexation
- Review sitemap issues
- Review pages not found
- Test for structured data
- Review title tags and H1
- Review URLs structure
- Review image alt tags
- Review and test robots.txt file
- Review for meta robots
- Review site speed
Technical SEO looks at a website from a mechanics standpoint, and ensures it has no issues or problems. It also reviews SEO elements that are important factors in the ranking of a website.
Why is Technical SEO important?
A technically sound website will increase the chance of being indexed and ranked accordingly. It also improves the user experience over time (think ‘page not found’, slow loading pages, etc. - which add to poor user experience and search engines do not want to serve up sites with bad UX.)
When did SEO come about?
According to historical research, SEO was first introduced in 1997. It is not important to know the exact moment it started, but it is important to know that SEO has been around since the first search engines appeared, and heavily pushed since Google was launched.
What has changed over the years?
SEO is the precursor to Digital Marketing as we know it today. It focused on optimizing websites for search engines, building backlinks (using white & black hat strategies), and improving user-experience over time. SEO was the only type of activity that would be used to rank a website, leaving any other strategy that would render a website user-friendly on the sidelines. The sole focus, then, was to look at rankings and whether the website was moving in the right direction.
Over time, search engines have taken steps to render their results more relevant to the users needs, and to strongly penalize websites using black hat techniques to rank for major keywords.
Those changes started a movement in the SEO industry where we were not just trying to rank a website to drive traffic. Today much has changed where ranking is not the primary focus anymore, although still relevant. Paid search, social media advertising and management, User Experience, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), and quality content have superseded the old SEO ways. The main focus today is to improve the User Experience from every angle to convert and retain visitors on your website.
What makes Technical SEO a must have tool in your processes?
Without Technical SEO, you will likely be launching a website with errors and issues that will be detectable by search engines, and end-users. Having a sound process in place will ensure that any new release of your website provides support to all your initiatives and a platform that you can use to promote your products/services with the highest level of quality.
What tools can you use?
Free and paid tools exist on the market that allow you to review the technical health of a website. Here, we are using a few of them such as:
- Screaming Frog (free & paid): advanced crawler
- SEMRush (paid): advanced crawler
- Google Search Console (free): see how Google crawls your website, find errors (404), how many pages are being indexed, traffic to your pages, and which keywords drive this traffic. There are other interesting functions that come with this tool such as structured data.
Is SEO dead?
Many articles have been written about this subject. The answer is ‘Yes and No’. The old ways of SEO are mostly dead. Today, SEO is a tool that is used to ensure that your website is healthy and responds to the needs of users first and secondly search engines. Of course, backlink building still exists, but in a much different and organic way than a few years ago. Hence, in this article we covered technical SEO as the go-to tool that you must have to deliver the best experience to your visitors.
SEO in its current form is highly technical but is accompanied with new areas of focus like CRO, UX, paid campaigns crossing over multiple platforms, landing page design, asset creation, video, and even augmented reality - all to promote products and services on a website in a manner that is delightful to the user.