Why is technical SEO important?

computer showing metrics data on screen

Technical SEO makes your website more digestible for search engines.

Perhaps technical or on-site SEO could be compared to eating smaller bites of food at your next meal. Sure you could gobble down that juicy 16oz ribeye in just a few bites, but you’ll probably pay for it later. If you had divided things up for better consumption, you might not be reaching for the Pepto right now.

Your website is the same way. When Google consumes your plethora of content by crawling it with bots and spiders (why does that sound so creepy), if you haven’t told it how to interpret your content with the proper elements, then it’ll just figure it out all on its own. Sometimes it works in a marvelous way and sometimes in a super stomach ache kind of way.

Take for example a previous client situation.

They had several really good content pages going for them, but they hadn’t been optimized very well. Doing a few incognito Google searches yielded very subpar results. Because one of their highest traffic pages had no metadata specified, Google was returning a description for the page consisting of jumbled together bits of content from their daily announcements, footer links, and other content blurbs. It was basically incoherent to anyone looking to use it to understand what the page was actually about, and if you’re wanting organic traffic to visit your site then a good page description is probably a decent starting point.

In addition, with no keyword focus, Google was left to return its results for whatever it deemed best fit. However, if it thought the footer links were a super important piece of content, then it probably wasn’t working as the client intended. To fix the issue I went in and optimized their content with proper metadata centered around the keywords that their content was actually about. Not only that, but I made sure the proper heading elements were used and added internal site links in the content when possible.

But what really goes into technical or on-site SEO?

You see, technical SEO is about using the right elements to maximize the search engine’s understanding of your website and collecting the right analytics data to make sure your content is working for your audience as intended. That’s accomplished in three basic ways by:

Writing good metadata for the search engines to process.

First off and as mentioned earlier, good metadata is going to make sure search engines understand what your content is about and having focused keywords is going to help you target the right audience you’re looking for. I’m not talking about the days of keyword stuffing either. No, I’m talking about keyword research that’s then combined with a proper content strategy to make sure your content is devised around the topics your users are most interested in learning about.

Using the proper web elements on your website to help the crawlers break down what your content is actually about.

Next, headings aren’t just for making your content easier for your users. They play a critical part in telling the web crawlers what your page is about at a glance. Most importantly, you should also have a descriptive H1 on your page. From there, use the other heading elements wisely and try to include the focus of your content where possible. If you’re blogging about pancakes, then try to include pancakes in your headings. However, do so in a natural way that helps your reader better understand the article. “Pancakes McPancaker making many pancakes,” is not a helpful heading.

In addition, internally linking to the other pages on your website not only gives your users a chance to discover deeper content, but it also helps the web bots crawl and better index your website as a whole.

Analyzing your content so that you can then later optimize it to better fit your users’ needs.

Finally, make sure you’re collecting some type of analytics data on your website. Google Analytics is free to use and offers quite a bit of depth to anyone willing to learn it. Doing so allows you to monitor the performance of your pages and identify your best and worst content. From there, you can analyze why a page works so well and then incorporate those elements into other pages and strategies. Not only that, but you can then employ things like event tracking, goal funnels, and audience segments to collect all sorts of numbers, but those are for another day!