Technical vs. Content SEO | What You Need to Know
What You Don't Know About SEO Can "Kill Ya'"
There is a lot of talk in the world of search engine optimization (SEO) about whether the field is dead. After all many regard SEO as the world of trickery and black hat arts; tactics aimed at 'fooling' the search engines to rank a website higher in search engine page results (SERPs).
SEO is Dead? Long Live SEO, I Say
Do I think that SEO is dead? No, I firmly believe SEO has evolved just as virtually everything online has. But SEO is so much more than years gone by when manipulating web page meta keywords could have an impact on a website's search engine visibility.
What I can say is that there appears to be several sides to the SEO game. And two sides that are critical to website success. One aspect is what I would refer to as "content SEO." The other is what could be described as "technical SEO".
Content SEO: Words and Phrases Matter
Content SEO is akin to creating content that is structured and themed properly. This includes the "standard" type of SEO tactics such as keyword selection, site planning, and structured content development. So what does this include?
- Title tags are often referred to as the most influential content SEO strategy. Make sure your page titles reflect the content and theme of your web page(s).
- Compelling meta descriptions designed to encourage to click on your website when displayed with search results.
- Content that reads well and contains a fairly specific theme per page.
- Headlines that are keyword specific. These include H1 (header) and H2, H3 and other subheads used in the right order. And only one H1 tag per page please.
- Images with descriptive and keyword specific ALT (image descriptive) tags.
- Keywords and phrases used in hyperlinks.
- Formatting of text including bold, italics. I must admit though, this doesn't seem to be as important as it once might have been.
Well, I think you get the picture!
Technical SEO: Well Structured, Coded Websites
So what of this technical SEO that I speak of? This refers to coding and technical issues that Google and other search engines are requesting to help them determine the true nature and content of your site. Such technical SEO tactics and strategies include:
- XML sitemaps that provide semantic markup that give search engine specific detail of pages, images, and video found on your website
- "404 pages" that are set up and served whenever a page is "missing" or a broken link results in a "page not found". Preferably such pages have navigation to direct your visitor back to key elements of your site.
- 301 redirects which means that you can add code to tell search engines that a page that no longer exists is no situated in another location. 301 redirect automatically forward website visitors to the new page.
- Efficient coding and technical programming can make your site load faster. The page load time studies continually show that pages that load slow(er) loose visitors.
- Canonical programming comes in two basic varieties. In a nutshell you need to determine whether you will serve your website with a WWW subdomain or without one. e.g. www.customfitonline.com or simply customfitonline.com. Both are valid. You just don't want to serve both versions of your site. The risk is that Google, Bing, etc. will regard this as two unique sites with duplicate content. And search engines do not like duplicate content being served. Canonical programming is also added to let search engines know that when other possible duplicate issues may arise coding is added to let the search engines know which content should be indexed and which shouldn't. Think blog posts where the post can be offered on the blog "gateway" page and again on an individual blog page. The ugly duplicate content issue raises its head again here. And trust me; you just don't want your website to present such issues to the search engines.
- IP addresses are numerical labels assigned to websites so that thing called the internet can identify your website. However, many servers "share" one IP address with many sites. Some people don't think this is problem. We prefer to have our client's site on a unique IP address. This eliminates any issues that might occur is a website that share your site's IP address is doing anything "spammy", etc. If you are sharing an IP address with such a site you have the chance of getting tagged by search engine as "spammy" or "corrupt." Not good!
The bottom line? When you are developing and marketing your website you need to be aware of both of these types of SEO. What I define as "content SEO" is still very important. But without having your website setup properly "technically" you can undo the positive effects of having really good, optimized content.
So heads up! Make sure you are addressing both "content SEO" and "technical SEO" with your website. If you are unsure if you are, do your due diligence and seek a qualified professional. It will be worth it!