Chapter 1 - Beginner’s Guide to Tech SEO

What is technical SEO?

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimising your website for the crawling and indexing phase. The goals between technical SEO and other SEO channels are pretty much shared whether the technical SEO strategies are there to create solid foundations between both on page and off page strategies to work efficiently.

Before diving into technical SEO practices and how to complete audits, we go through the fundamentals, these being the understanding of how websites work, how search engines understand websites, and then how users interact with websites.

How websites work

Computers are connected up to the web and called clients and servers. Clients can be defined as a user’s typical internet-connected device, such as computer, smartphone, tablet etc. Servers on the other hand store web pages, websites and apps. When a user types an address or a search query into a browser, a copy of the webpage downloaded previously is served on the client side to the user. 

search engines

How search engines work

Search engines work by crawling billions of pages throughout the web using hyperlinks. So to do this, search engines will use their own crawlers as also known as search engine bots or spiders. Once a new page has then been discovered, it can then be rendered and indexed. Various authority and relevance metrics are then scored to ensure that the most relevant results are then retrieved against the search query in the search engine.

However, as there’s been a huge rise in JavaScript powered websites, Google realised it had to start rendering web pages more like modern browsers. So back in 2018, it introduced the second wave indexing. If a page has JavaScript in it, the rendering is actually deferred until Google has the resources ready to then render the client side content and then it will index the content further a bit later.

Georgie Kemp

Technical SEO Executive at Vinterior

Georgie is a Technical SEO Executive at Vinterior. Georgie has a fascination around digital innovation, growth marketing, and marketplace SEO. In her spare time, you’ll find Georgie volunteering at Nottingham Women’s Centre or reading empowerment books.”

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Table of Contents

How users interact with websites

Search engines have some of the most intelligent data mining operations and algorithms than any other piece of technology. They continually collect data to understand an individuals behaviour and help their displayed output become more user-centric. It’s crucial to understand the intent behind queries by dissecting the language used, enticing users to click on your web page, breadcrumbs and a clear navigation, fast site speed and creating a seamless user experience.

1. Manual checks are good

Be a lot more human during your auditing process. It’s always encouraged to manually audit your site, so just in the way that a Google bot and users would interact with your site and navigate it, try to get familiar with the site as a whole. Look at the overall site architecture, high value, low value pages, how’s the internal linking working, and  get a feel of it there. Then try and identify different technologies that the website’s built on, for example use the Chrome extension Waffleizer to quickly have a look at what our website is built on. Then analyse what tools will be best to use to crawl the site.

Continue to troubleshoot the site from accessibility, crawlability, indexability, all these different areas of the site, and then always make it bespoke to every single audit.

It’s also really important to understand who you are actually delivering your audit to. This will help to really structure your recommendations. If it’s being delivered straight to a developer, these recommendations should be incredibly concise and actionable. However, if it’s being delivered to other stakeholders, who may not come from a technical background and might not have a real understanding of SEO, then include the reason for the recommendations. For example, the return on investment, or talking around the KPIs that the recommendation is looking to tackle.

2. Technical SEO - always more to learn

Don’t worry about what others are doing. Try and not be fazed by those around you that may have more experience or have been in the industry a lot longer than you. Technical SEO as a whole is pretty much a learning curve and comes with all the analysis that you complete. Technical SEO is self taught, you do not learn it at university. No matter if you’re working in an agency, in-house, freelance, try and audit as many sites as possible, whether that be utilising a crawling tool, manually auditing, or a combination of both. This will then give you exposure to a range of issues, range of websites, that you can then look out for in the future, and then also lean on others around you.

3. Discipline

Technical SEO is a discipline, it’s something that can’t be taught overnight. It’s ever-evolving, and knowledge comes with time, so keep at it, keep updated with all the different industry news. Twitter is great for that. Take the time to really empower those around you, as diverse thinking really does breed creativity in all senses of life, as well as technical SEO issues. Reach out and explore the incredible communities out there, such as Women in Tech SEO. Good people will always want to help answer your questions and you in turn can help provide the answers to theirs. Technical SEO is never finished and there is always something new to learn.

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