As mentioned in our post about SEO being a Three-Legged Stool, Technical SEO is the first thing we look at when evaluating how to best optimize a website for maximum visibility in search engines.
Technical SEO can help ensure that search engine crawlers don’t encounter any roadblocks, dead ends, or inefficiencies when they crawl your site.
Why is this important?
Technical SEO issues can take on a myriad of forms; here are just a few examples:
- The crawler doesn’t have a clear idea of what pages you want in the index, which can be indicated by a properly formatted and optimized robots.txt and XML sitemap files.
- The search engine crawler can’t crawl your site due to a roadblock such as noindex tags.
- It gets hung up in infinite loops or dead-end 404 pages (the dreaded “Page Not Found” error).
- The crawler has to jump through multiple hoops such as unnecessary redirects, or it has to wait a long time for pages to load.
Any of those issues will mean that the crawler can’t find your content, or its visit to the site is inefficient. Googlebot and other search engine crawlers are very busy little spiders, and they will only spend so much time on your site. So if they run into these issues, they’ll just move on to the next site on their list for the day.
And when they do that, they might not visit every page on your site. They won’t see the latest updates to your content, and they won’t see that new, awesome blog entry you just posted.
That means all of that wonderful content you’ve worked so hard on won’t be added to the search engine’s index. And that means it’ll never be found when people are looking for that information in the search engines. Boo.
Technical SEO issues can crop up for any number of reasons; again, here are just a few examples:
- SEO-relevant elements weren’t updated when a new website was launched from a development environment.
- Old URLs were never redirected properly.
- Inadequate attention was paid to mobile usability and/or page speed.
- Fixing one issue on the site broke something else on the site.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, web designers and developers often know a lot about avoiding these issues. But (and this is as it should be), they’re not focused on SEO; they’re focused on design and development.
Abracadabra: A Technical SEO Case Study
For most clients, we have worked almost simultaneously on the three legs of the SEO Stool – Technical SEO, Keywords and Content, and Links / Local SEO. So in those cases it can be difficult to pull apart the pure impact of only Technical SEO-related improvements.
But for one current client, we made only technical SEO improvements to their site; there were some delays in working on the other legs of the SEO Stool. This provided us the opportunity to isolate the impact of the Technical SEO improvements.
The technical improvements alone (without any content changes being made yet) made an enormous difference in the organic search metrics that matter. Comparing two 90-day periods before and after the improvements were made, here’s what we found in the Google Analytics and Search Console data:
- Visits from Organic Search rocketed up 10.15%
- New Users were up 12.56%
- Clicks from Google search results pages shot up an amazing 12,273%
- Impressions (the number of times the website showed up on Google results pages) increased 1,265%
- The site’s Average Position (or Ranking) on Google across all search terms (keywords) is down 21%, meaning that overall the website was ranking on Page 5 instead of Page 7!
Obviously the site still needed some serious content optimization, but now that the Technical SEO Issues were resolved, with awesome keyword targeted content it’ll really take off!
Header Photo Credit: Ben LeFort