Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. There was an article on Entrepreneur recently that had every SEO expert in an uproar… and the CEO of a company that does SEO wrote it.
When I first read the post “Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise”, I wanted to climb through my laptop and strangle the author. (I really wish I didn’t have to link to it.) It wasn’t because he gave away any secrets to SEO, but rather, the advice he gave could hurt so many businesses that are already struggling to stand out to get found online.
(As my business network can attest… That just ticks me off!)
— Phil Gerbyshak (@PhilGerb) July 20, 2015
So, with my 20+ years of search engine and web development experience, I’m going to push all my mad New Yorker emotions to the side and give you the real deal on SEO and technical expertise.
(Although there are many aspects of the originating article that could be covered, I am only going to cover the top 3 here to keep this post at a length that is easy to read.)
1. You Must Know the Foundations of Technical SEO
“While there are some architectural strategies and coding tactics that you should employ as part of your strategy, for the most part, modern SEO can be implemented without any prior experience, and without any technical knowledge of how websites — or Google’s algorithm — work.”
Although Google does not disclose their search engine algorithms, there are many foundational technical SEO best practices that must be employed both on your website and off your website.
For example: Google has a character limit for Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions, there is a file size limitation for your XML Sitemaps, and too many website plugins can make your website so slow that Google doesn’t want to bother with it.
2. User Experience and Modern SEO Are Important
“Ultimately, there’s only one motivation that drives Google: the experience of its users. It wants its users to be happy so they’ll keep coming back to Google. So Google favors sites that make their visitors happy in turn. Ignore all the technical terms, all the details of execution and all your preconceived notions for a moment and focus on this: the happier your users are when they visit your site, the higher you’re going to rank.”
In the end, user experience is crucial to your search engine rankings. However, think of the technology as a road to your website (your home). If you don’t build a solid road to your home, or a solid foundation for your house to sit on, who in the world is going to want to visit you (or even find you)?
The technical aspects of SEO not only build a solid home (that’s not made of cardboard), but also builds a smooth road for people to get to your home.
Without a solid foundation, the user experience is going to be poor and people will never return… therefore, decreasing your SEO ranking.
3. Always Write Quality Content.
“Content has been a major pillar for SEO for the past decade or so, but you no longer need to pay attention to the keyword phrases you include or how often you include them, nor do you need to present your content in a specific way. You just need to make sure you’re choosing interesting, relevant topics, and writing about them in an original, informative way (free from error, of course).”
Are you serious??? (Sorry, the New Yorker is coming out here!)
How in the world is Google going to know what you’re talking about if you don’t use the keywords to describe your products or services.
If I were to say: “My awesome thing has many good things and provides people with things.”
Would you have a clue as to what I’m talking about? No? Then how is Google going to know to index my website correctly so that, when the humans use keywords, it knows my website is the perfect page to bring to the top of the search engines? (Seriously, guy! Get a brain!)
One more thing…
Although many content management system (CMS) websites have SEO tools that you can install, none of the tools walk you through SEO technical best practices.
Many of the defaults in these applications will help you get through the basics but, if your website has major technical issues or you don’t get training for these tools, you will never truly optimize your website for higher search engine rankings.
SEO is both an art and a science. It takes years of dedication and technical know-how to be a true SEO expert and consultant. This is because SEO is all we do. You cannot simple “make your users happy” because Google (and the other search engines) are not human.
Technical SEO is crucial to communicating all aspects of your awesome website to the search engine. Ultimately, this is what will increase your search engine rankings.
If anyone tells you different, tell him or her to come talk to me. I’ve got your back!
Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.