Technical SEO: Is It Relevant To My Website?
Guest Post: Victoria Greene looks at whether technical SEO is relevant to your website.
Is it relevant? In a nutshell: yes. Even a small portfolio website needs strong SEO foundations, and a big corporate website even more.
As well as high-quality code, technical SEO ticks a few other essential boxes. From proper search engine indexing to page structure, technical SEO is essential to a healthy website. It will give you the best possible springboard from which to launch into your content strategy and marketing campaigns.
Here are some specifics that technical SEO can help you with, as well as some helpful tips on how to make the most of it for your business.
Everything coming together
Putting together a sound website can be a bit like stacking bricks to build a house. Or putting a tricky puzzle together...
Essentially, technical SEO is just about making sure that puzzle is built in the best possible way.
From your URL structure and navigation, to your page titles and internal linking strategy, there are many ways that paying attention to technical SEO best practices can help you build a solid framework that’s ready for your content.
The best web design projects out there take into account technical SEO, user experience (UX), usability, content strategy, copywriting, aesthetics, on-page/non-technical SEO, web marketing — and more! A lot of the disciplines listed here have considerable overlap with each other, so it’s important that the web build happens as a collaborative effort.
How to build a site that satisfies everyone:
- A proper headings structure is a must-have, so don’t let your web designer go off-piste with this one. Good headings help search engine crawlers index and make sense of your content faster
- Leave plenty of space for content and copy — but don’t ignore the importance of whitespace and letting the user breathe as well
- Have a logical URL structure that doesn’t have too many pointless subfolders (they dilute site authority)
- Include internal links throughout the site — not just in the main navigation. Keep the anchor texts clean and user-friendly
- Review your page titles and meta descriptions — they determine what your site looks like on search results pages and should be compelling and unique
- Use the rel=canonical tag for any duplicate URLs (some content management systems can be a nightmare for this).
Big enterprise sites that we all spend a lot of time on like Amazon are a good place start with your own ad-hoc website research. They have the accumulated wisdom of millions of users behind their web design choices; they will have experts monitoring everything from copy placement to buttons.
Get more out of your site with structured data
Have you noticed how Google can now identify and show you specific types of results, like recipes? You may have also noticed things like star reviews coming up on certain search results – this is all achieved through structured data.
Structured data is a technical SEO no-brainer, and you only need a few hours of developer/marketer collaboration in order to map this one out. As a search strategy, it’s been proven to bring in more traffic and it helps give the user more context about your website.
Here is a an example from Google Developers that gives a nice illustration of what structured data markup and its results look like:
As you can see, structured data helps your website and content stand out in the search results. By being more interesting and dynamic, your listing is much more likely to get click-through traffic from the SERP (search engine results page). You can use structured data to highlight product reviews, content formats, breadcrumbs, and other site features.
It’s not difficult to implement, especially if you use the free Structured Data Testing Tool from Google. (pictured below).
Use it to find out what structured date (if any) you have on your site, and test out any additions.
When to ignore technical SEO
Sometimes, there isn’t enough developer budget in the bank to deal with something right there and then. In those cases, it’s important to recognise the fixes that are mission-critical, and which ones aren’t. Getting caught up in a tiny indexing or page structure issue may not be the best use of your time.
Also, depending on your content management system, certain technical SEO fixes may be harder to implement. Something like WordPress allows for a lot of control, but can also be easily messed up, whereas a Shopify store would have a much more closed ecosystem. Make sure that any SEO recommendations you are implementing take into account your content management system and any constraints that come with it.
Some closed-source and smaller content management systems simply won’t allow you to implement all the recommended SEO features.
When NOT to ignore it
During web migrations and launches it’s often absolutely critical that you pay attention to technical SEO considerations. Axing page content, changing the URL structure, or altering the site’s logic can result in a sharp drop-off in search rankings.
A technical SEO should be on hand to manage the transitional phase and any redirects, as these could have a MASSIVE impact on traffic, rankings, and revenue if mismanaged.
Ecommerce SEO has its own rules and technical ecommerce SEO is no different. You will probably find that duplicate content and canonicalisation will be a big focus for the technical SEO team on any ecommerce site.
How technical SEO impacts other disciplines
Decisions that are made during the site build have ripples — they impact content, web design, and marketing budgets.
It’s important that one discipline isn’t unfairly prioritised or promoted above others.
Though technical SEO considerations are important, aesthetics will also have a big impact on users and conversions. It’s important that the overall web design is technically sound, but that it also reflects your brand.
On the content side, a greater focus on technical SEO is likely to lead to an increased need for content, or at least some changes to how the current site is laid-out. Copywriting and content marketing are essential to modern SEO, and should play a big part in any website marketing strategy.
Choosing the right supplier
In order to find a good Technical SEO, you must first find a good web development agency who will be able to guide you through the vagaries of web design.
A well-built website is really the first step of technical SEO — with future tweaks and improvements often coming in as part of a wider SEO strategy.
If you feel like you need some targeted technical help, you may be able to find a consultant or agency who are able to run through some quick site audits and findings with you.
Technical SEO and web development can cause some people anxiety. They shouldn’t. Technical structures underpin all websites, and when they are managed in the right way, they allow you to cost-effectively update and market your website.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how companies can improve the way they represent their brand. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their reach.