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What Is Technical SEO and Why You Should Care

If on your own you’ve researched and implemented some basic SEO on your website but have found the results to be more lackluster than you would like, it is time to look into what technical SEO is and why you should care.  SEO in any form is better than nothing, but an SEO team can assist with utilizing technical SEO throughout your website to make it more attractive to search engines and users.

What Is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is a phrase used primarily by industry professionals to describe on-site elements that apply more to the server and to the coding of the page; what’s under the hood, if you will.  But it can leave many small business owners wondering, “What is technical SEO? How should I implement it and why should I care?”

In the simplest of terms, technical SEO is the skilled preparation of a website that lends itself to increasing search visibility, specifically for crawling and indexing.

I see so many business owners that let themselves be intimidated by the phrase technical SEO.  They shouldn’t be.  It is primarily just a far more supped up version of SEO best practices that nicely complement what you are likely already using if you are reading this post. It is also one of the things web designers overlook and ultimately hamper how a website will rank.

Maybe think of it this way.  SEO is a professional baseball team with talent and promise, but the statistical gurus who do the statistical number crunching that better position that same team to win- that is technical SEO.  If you use both, well, you are more likely to hit a home run.

The three main components of technical SEO that deal almost entirely with websites are:

  1. how they are structured
  2. how they are understood by search engines
  3. how user friendly they are

Let’s break them down one category at a time to get a better grasp of how they relate to technical SEO.

Supporting Learning Materials on Technical SEO

Internet Marketing Clinic on Technical SEO (May 2020)

Podcast on Technical SEO

How Websites Can Equal Technical SEO

Some business owners do not yet have a website set up for their company.  While it is a must for digital success in the twenty-first century, creating a website from the ground up under the guidance of an SEO professional who is also skilled at web design is the ultimate way to build a website because aesthetically it looks great but underneath, the code, and structure is assembled properly.

Of course, you likely already know that every website needs a domain name.  And, because SEO411 is a full-service company we offer those services directly to our clients.  Once you’ve selected a domain name, it is usually easily recognizable by people, but not search engines without some work. Additionally, you need to make sure you choose a domain that is a blend of keyword-rich but also brandable.  So SEO411, LEDspot.com for LED Lighting or Webechristmas.com for Christmas Trees.  These branded keywords go a long way to helping this.

So you have a general understanding of how a website is up, let’s talk about the three terms a developer may reference in building your website:

  1. HTML
  2. CSS
  3. JavaScript

If you are reading these terms and are thinking they sound too technical, don’t give up.  They help explain what technical SEO is and with the right explanation, you can better understand these terms, their role in technical SEO, and why you should care.

  • Let’s look at HTML. Although the acronym is for the term hypertext markup language, maybe the best way to describe HTML is that it is the language that your website speaks.  I am not talking about foreign languages.  I am talking about formatting and coding that makes a website’s content and headings appear as they do on most web pages.  Every heading, paragraph, and list on a web page is part of HTML.  Now on to why you should care.  HTML is something that search engines like Google use to determine your website’s relevance to a user’s search.  Translation?  When using proper HTML protocol in a web page, it will likely rank higher on a search engine’s results list.
    • For example, within HTML code there are certain elements that a search engine looks for to be executed properly such as the proper use of H1, H2 and H3 tags. Commonly web designers co-opt these markups and confuse the search engine as the intent of the page.
  • On to CSS. This acronym stands for cascading style sheets, but what it should mean to you is that it determines how a web page looks.  If HTML is the language your website speaks, CSS is the tool that determines how that language appears such as font style, color usage, and layouts.  While the reason you should care about using CSS may seem obvious, in addition to how it is used an affect a page’s load time which can affect the success of the SEO campaign.
  • Last is JavaScript. An explanation of JavaScript can be a bit complicated, so for the purposes of this post, the important thing to know is that it affects interactive features of a web page such as pop-up or an ad.  JavaScript is important to technical SEO because it essentially allows search engines to crawl, render, and index a web page better.

What to Know About How Your Site’s Technical SEO Is Seen by A Search Engine

We already talked about how search engines don’t “read” your website as an internet user would, so let’s talk about how they do read it.  One word, schema.  Using schema enables a web page to tell a search engine about the kind of information that can be found on it.

Think of schema this way.  If you are a person who has lots of stacks of papers piled high on your desk, you may or may not know where important documents are located but someone new to your office would not be able to decode your filing system.  However, if the papers on your desk are sorted by categories into folders with corresponding names on them, chances are that an outsider would still be able to find the papers that they need upon entering your office.  Schema can do for your website what file folders can do for the papers on your desk, organize it so that others can understand what kind of information you have where.

The way a technical SEO professional utilizes schema may allow a search engine to augment your search result listing with a rich snippet (a description of your web page) that can increase the odds of directing traffic to your web page.

What Technical SEO On Your Page Does For A User

We’ve already tackled how a website can be created with technical SEO to enhance their visibility with a search engine, but the flip side of that is how it can work for the audience on the other side of the screen, the user.

Here are what technical SEO best practices can do for an internet user:

  • Ensure a consistent display across devices. There is nothing more frustrating than sending the link of a beautiful webpage link you accessed on your laptop to a friend who then tries to access the same link on their smartphone to find a less than an impressive page.  The reason for this is that when the page was set up it did not utilize what is called responsive design.  This type of design helps ensure that the appearance of a web page is consistent even across different technology devices.  Using responsive design is technical SEO 101.
  • Achieve an acceptable load time has gained in importance in 2020. Web pages that may have too much code or content can take upwards of ten seconds to download properly.  This is the bane of existence for most internet users that have become accustomed to a page loading almost instantly.  A web page that does not have a fast load time typically equals an internet user that leaves that page for another.
  • Provide a valid connection. Technical SEO is designed to help web pages rank higher in search engine results.  When a company’s web pages show up as relevant in a search engine’s results, it should connect the user with a company that matches their needs.  A user’s click on that search result link may result in website traffic and a sales conversion that can be a win-win for the user and the company.

Finding the Right SEO Team to Assist with Technical SEO

Technical SEO can be overwhelming and complicated for a novice which is why most business owners decide to enlist the help of a reputable SEO team who is expertly trained in technical SEO and web design. There are very few SEO companies that are uniquely positioned to understand the full depth of technical SEO. So if you are considering an SEO company, inquire how they handle hosting and if their hosting company has experience in handling SEO this. Additionally, the same comments go for web designers. Just because they know how to add a title tag or can talk about keywords does not mean then can make a solid web site design that is technical sounds and the website rank. Just because it’s pretty doesn’t mean it will rank well or that it’s technically sound. There should be a balance between the two. It can’t be ugly and a link farm. It can’t be so beautiful that it’s a 20M homepage. Balance is key

Here are some things to consider before you sign with an SEO company:

  • Choose a provider that has years of experience specifically providing SEO. Some digital marketing companies can help business owners do a lot of things, but if they do not have specific expertise in technical SEO you probably need to keep looking.
  • Find an SEO team that is willing to incorporate your specific needs. This generally means being able to define what your SEO goals are for your company and then having the professionals help you create a campaign to reach those specific goals, not every SEO goal on the planet.
  • Do not sign long-term contracts.  Go back and read that last sentence again because it’s that important.  A reputable SEO company should already have enough clients and past examples of success that they need not be dependent on a client signing a long-term contract.  If a company is requesting you to sign a long-term contract, walk away…or maybe run.

Congratulations!  If you read all the way through to the end of this post then you passed technical SEO 101.  No more wondering about what is technical SEO and why you should care, now it’s time to pursue it.  Go get it and watch what happens next.

Beth Guide

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Beth Guide

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