Earlier this month, Moz’s Rand Fishkin posted a Whiteboard Friday video addressing the technical aspects of SEO. Created in response to an Entrepeneur.com article titled “Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise”, Fishkin presents his rebuttal, citing a long list of technical requirements to create and manage an effective SEO campaign.
As a quick side note: I’m not entering the debate here, but SEO is my world and the exchange from both parties had me inspired. So here it goes.
As SEO becomes a more prominent factor in the competitive world of digital marketing for businesses, some companies are opting to bring their SEO efforts in-house. This is a good idea, so long as long as its understood that for the effort to be effective the role must be fulfilled by individuals that have a strong foundational awareness of the subject including, the technical knowledge required to manage a campaign and keep it running smoothly. I encourage you to watch the video for the full list of technical skills mentioned by Fishkin, but here are some top takeaways:
Managing Redirects, Domain Migrations, Content Updates
When you produce a new piece of content that replaces a current piece, how do you manage that old piece of content that has already been indexed? Best practices for handling this scenario varies, which is where that technical knowledge swoops in to save the day. Additionally, it’s important to know all of the steps involved in successfully migrating a domain, as well as managing redirects for new and current sites.
Proper Error Codes, Downtime Procedures, and Not Found Pages
As google indexes your site, having the correct error codes for ‘not found pages’ is critical. It’s important to properly use 404 codes to let the search engines know there is an error, so they are not crawling that page as if it was a fully functioning entity. 410 error codes are another must-know, so the search engines know you have permanently removed that page. This prevents Google and other search engines from returning and attempting to re-index the deleted page.
Diagnosing Page Load Speed and Mobile Responsive Issues
The speed at which your site loads is an important factor, both for user experience and for search engine indexing. If you don’t have the technical knowledge to find and diagnose why your page isn’t loading at the speed it should, you have no way of fixing the problem. Mobile responsiveness is another critically important factor for your website’s SEO. If you can’t get your page to be responsive, you will ultimately lose out on that mobile traffic.
A fair point to mention…
In today’s world with the rapid development of technology, much of the information about current updates and best practices are widely available online from a variety of trusted sites. There are communities, incubators and public think tanks that can help you to improve your technical skill set, with plenty of resources from digital companies that act as an authority within this space. However, without the foundational knowledge and technical expertise to implement those practices and updates, you won’t be able to implement those changes.
Overall, it is important to be tactical and strategic with your SEO strategy. Analytical skills play into SEO as well – even with so many ways to measure and analyze the traffic on your site, all of those tools are useless without someone in front of that screen who can turn numbers into meaningful takeaways and develop strategic next steps for improvement.