SEO is a multifaceted industry that relies on the proper balance and integration of all its parts to work the most efficiently and effectively. Of course, link building is vital to successful SEO, as is content creation, content distribution, web design, etc. But, how would all these “front end” SEO tactics work if everything behind them wasn’t also optimized?
This is where Technical Optimization comes into play. In the end, SEO focuses on one thing: Search Engines. While search engines have become more mature and their algorithms have become more inclusive and adaptive, they don’t simply look at the front end of a web page and decide if it’s a good source right then and there. Search engines actually see a stripped down version of the website that looks very different from what you see in your browser. So, while a web page may be visually appealing to you, there still might be much more that needs to be done for it to be properly technically optimized, and therefore “visually” appealing to a search engine.
The Basics of Technical Optimization
Even big websites sometimes have accidents!
Technical Optimization is only a single gear in the greater scheme of SEO, but it can be viewed as the large gear at the bottom that makes everything else go round. Selecting an SEO partner that is aware and proficient in Technical Optimization is key to a successful SEO campaign. Search engines rely on algorithms that are designed to crawl through websites looking for certain characteristics and features of a site that relate to a keyword or phrase. These algorithms also account for the back end structure of a site and use it to organize and prioritize certain sections or even subpages of a site.
The most basic level of Technical Optimization includes ensuring that your site contains no broken links. This includes error codes such as the infamous “404: Page Not Found” or “403: Forbidden.” Sites that have any combination of these error codes will be flagged by the search engines as poor sources. Simply identifying the causes of these codes and fixing them can help your ranking immediately.
Other items that search engines will look for are H1/H2/H3 tags (header fonts), bolded words (<strong>), tables (<table>), and pictures with alt text. While this ventures into some other areas of SEO, no section of SEO is completely separate from the others.
Domain Names and URLs
A Domain Name? Yes. An original Domain Name? No, not exactly.
Owning short, intuitive, relevant domain names is also a key part of Technical Optimization. It can help to own domain names that are similar to the main domain to account for misspellings, or just cover similar topics. These should be set up to redirect to the real home page. There are some steps that should be taken, however, to avoid appearing like spam to search algorithms.
In addition to owning the right domain names, URLs can be optimized on top of that. The domain name is the actual name of the website (www.example.com). A URL includes the domain name in addition to everything else before and after it (http://www.example.com/exampleurl.html) Everything after the “.com” is called the slug. Having concise slugs (www.example.com/slug/) also helps search engines find appropriate subpages and categorize the different parts of your site.
The Silo Structure and More…
Sorry, not this kind of silo.
Organizing your site’s subpages into different categories will form what is called a website silo structure. This structure increases traffic due to its interconnectedness and allows visitors to easily navigate between categories and subpages.
Technical Optimization can be confusing, but with the right research and sources it can be understood and properly utilized. It is vital to the success of any SEO campaign, and should be on the top of anyone’s list trying to increase traffic and earn better click-through/conversion rates. Technical Optimization also extends into the territory of servers, IP addresses, DNS services, web hosting, and all sorts of other confusing technological terms. These terms, tools, and services will also be addressed in a later article, so stay tuned! Hopefully this has introduced the very basics of Technical Optimization, and has helped you start to understand what it is, and why it is important in the SEO industry.