Search Engine Land published a fairly controversial post that sparked a lot of debate regarding the necessity and priority of technical SEO. The experts at SMX Advanced noted this debate and provided their opinions during their presentations.
The core debate is not that technical SEO isn’t valuable, but more that it should have a higher priority when compared to content creation or user satisfaction.
While I can agree that content and user experience are just as high on the list, those tactics should be used in conjunction with optimization. As an SEO (search engine optimization) strategist, it is part of my job to seek what will move the needle the most given a certain level of effort.
Which is why I would agree with the majority of experts in saying that we cannot ignore the technical aspects of SEO, but instead keep them at the same priority as other initiatives, keeping in mind that no two situations are the same.
For example, the best move for an e-commerce website might be creating new product descriptions, while a local business may want to optimize the speed of its site. Technical SEO, content, and user experience optimization bring different benefits and disadvantages in these situations, so you need to find a happy medium between them. Technical SEO is still important for EVERYONE!
What Should You Focus On?
I prioritize the actions that will drive the best results for your website. For reference, this is how I would prioritize the technical details of your site.
Can the search engines crawl your website? If your website blocks or improperly redirects search engine crawlers, there is not much use for your content or optimizations to begin with. Tools like Screaming Frog or Google Search Console can determine whether your pages are up to par for crawling. These tools also allow you to troubleshoot any crawl errors you may encounter.
Similar to crawlability, readability asks whether users and search engines can understand what your page is trying to accomplish. Is it trying to inform, sell, promote, or counsel? As a website owner or webmaster, if you don’t know the purpose of a page, then how would anyone else? The intent of the page can determine whether technical SEO or content takes precedence.
View your website from a user’s standpoint. Users who don’t stick around long create a negative signal for search engines. So you need to determine what you want users to do on your page to properly optimize the page for them and their needs. Would users want to read a 1500-word article about the latest fashion, or would they want to see a gallery of pictures?
Going deeper into usability, you need to have a clear and concise method of navigating your website. Clear navigation retains your user’s attention, creates positive signals for search engines, and increases potential user loyalty. If users can go from page to page logically and meaningfully, they are likely to remember your website in regards to your website’s subject matter.
5. Rich Formatting and Markup
With new search engine elements, like cards and rich snippets, it is becoming more important and beneficial to structure your content. Take 10 minutes to set up some schema markup or set emphasis tags in your content. Being noted or even highlighted in the search results can drive large amounts of users to your website organically.
Technical SEO Will Always Be Necessary
With more and more websites going up every day, it is pretty safe to say that we will always need technical SEO. The industry’s huge emphasis on content has resulted in larger websites, and those websites can only succeed with the right technical elements. Of course, we also can’t forget that new innovations to websites, content, and even search engines will also fuel this constant need to get more technical with your website.
There will continue to be new and better ways to optimize and structure your website, but the importance of technical SEO will remain the same.