Technical SEO is one of the things they gave SEO such a bad name.
Technical SEO was sometimes now referred to as old school SEO would use a setting of words terms and language that in the sense was designed to give SEO some sort of mystique that would make it well outside of the re-met and understanding of your average marketing bod and hence the reason why you should PAY an SEOer.
Terms like canonical domain checks, robots.txt, HTML / W3C validated alt tags meta data and headings analysis all part of this vocabulary.
Even in 2018, if you search Google for a free site audit, the software will scan your webpage and basically count the numbers of certain code features.
Canonical domain issues and choices really means whether or not to use www .before the domain or not. Meta data is just really a way of saving a file with a name and description. Robots txt is simply a small text document that is used by search engines to take instructions from ie do not index my login page.
URL is SEO friendly, if not then there is lots of shaking of heads, means is is your URL ie the address of your webpage in simple words as opposed in numbers ///4343/ref= etc.
Headers analysis is simply the titles within the content, do I make them H1 or H2. Neither is actually correct. H2 only has reference if there is an H1. Instead you could have actually had H4 and H5, the preceding had a value gives reference to the following value.
Alt tags are simply an old fashion way of giving an image and alternative (hence alt) description, so that should a browser not load images at least the words would appear giving the user at least an indication of what the image may have been.
An old school technical SEO would practically have a coronary if you meta title is less than 70 characters.
Technical SEO has not really developed over the last 5 years
There has seen a number of additions which include page size and loading time, whether or not your website’s mobile friendly.
A few new rules have appeared like you should have at least 2000 words on your home page.
Social media has appeared, is a website of a link to twitter, is there a blog on your website and lastly the some reason the Holy Grail is your site is accessible via HTTPS (SSL).
Is any of this relevant 2018?
My major concern with technical SEO is that it never sheds old rules, merely adds new ones. Vanilla Circus© have research every one of the common held SEO truisms and have found that although the majority have grains of truth they are far too simplistic.
For example does your website have a link to twitter, does your website have a link to Facebook. I would agree that all of these are trust signals the Google interprets and measures against the overall score of the website.
However what is not clear is do you actually have to link to your own Twitter account or could you just link to someone else’s Facebook account.
We created a test bed of over 500 website we tested myths like building back links with exact match anchor text, whether or not links all from a single IP recounted in any way differently. We also looked at https and compared websites with and without.
Our own algorithm
What we discovered we put into our own algorithm which we run against websites. This gives a score that we think reflects Google scoring. In a sense this is the secret Vanilla Circus’s success.
Technical SEO still takes precedence over creative SEO. The major complaint we hear from new clients is that all their old SEO agency does is alter meta tags and alt tags whilst ensuring that each page has an H1 heading.
Technical SEO in the style is more based in 2010 and doesn’t take into consideration all of the changes and improvements that Google has made to its algorithm.
Technical SEO metrics are so easy to manipulate
The majority of technical SEO metrics are so easy to manipulate. For example meta keywords who hasn’t been guilty of adding so many additional keywords. This problem means that technical SEO signals have been downgraded in Google’s algorithmic scoring.
This does not mean they’re not important, it is just that their importance has been superseded by Google’s advancing technology. (Google scoring the website can be anything from 0 to Infinity.)
One of the reasons why the same website is number one for a keyword for what seems like decades is because the scorer of this website far exceeds the websites that ranks second third and fourth.
On the technical SEO metrics we have spoken about invariably only ever score 1. So undertaking correct meta data, alt tags etc. are unlikely to make very much difference to your Google page position.
There are vanilla circus we still teach technical SEO. To us it is just best practice. All new technicians are shown the very best way of using these metrics to improve the work they do.
However it is the work they do, the content they create the site architecture, the internal and external linking structure and the use of language, words synonyms antonyms and sentence structures that actually command the highest scores within Google’s algorithm.
This is what we refer to as creative SEO. This is what I do.
Author: Benedict Sykes is the senior consultant at VC.