All the time and hard work you dedicate to researching and producing high-quality,
search-optimised content could be for nothing if you don’t have the right technical foundations in place.
Getting technical SEO right
Technical optimisation is about ensuring that search engines can find and crawl your website, but also that you’re delivering a strong, reliable experience to your users, and for many firms, this isn’t something they can do alone.
Finding the right technical SEO agency could be one of the most important steps you take on your journey to achieving better search engine rankings. An experienced and reliable partner can help you understand and navigate certain ‘behind-the-scenes’ elements of SEO that you need to get right if you want search engines and users to find your website.
What is technical SEO and why is it so important?
A lot of the work involved in search engine optimisation (SEO) is about crafting high-quality, relevant content that meets your users’ needs and gives them a positive experience to turn browsers into leads. But to reach that point, first you have to make sure your website can be crawled, indexed and ranked by search engines. That’s where technical SEO comes in.
Technical SEO is the umbrella term for a range of factors that influence whether a search engine can find and render your website. It also encompasses various elements of the architecture, security and performance of your site, such as your URL structure, XML sitemap, mobile optimisation and page loading speeds.
The significance of technical SEO
While on-page and off-page SEO may be more familiar to many people, technical SEO is a crucial aspect of your overall SEO strategy, for a number of reasons.
Starting with the basics, you need to ensure your site is built to be comprehensible to search engines. Google et al don’t read websites in the way human users do; they rely on code to create a picture of a website and what it’s about. Therefore, having the right technical aspects is vital if you want to improve your search engine ranking.
Among the most important coding languages – particularly when it comes to ensuring your site can be found by search engines and displayed in browsers – are:
- HTML – What your website says (page titles, copy etc)
- CSS – How your website looks (aspects like colours and fonts)
While you don’t necessarily need to understand the finer details of coding to succeed with technical SEO issues, it certainly helps to know the fundamentals. The more time you can dedicate to studying this subject, the better prepared you’ll be to collaborate with web developers and optimise your site to rank in search.
Going beyond essential requirements to ensure search engines can crawl and index your site, technical SEO also covers core web vitals in terms of performance and user experience. Google’s algorithm will look at indicators like hreflang tags (if you’re using multiple languages) and security protocols, for example, when ranking your site in search engine results pages (SERPs).
It’s important to be aware of the wide range of factors that fall under the banner of technical SEO when thinking about your own strategy.
What technical SEO elements should you focus on?
Key components of a successful technical SEO strategy include:
- Using features like a robots.txt file and a solid internal linking structure to ensure search engines can crawl and index your website
- Implementing a comprehensive URL structure, which incorporates your target keywords
- Making your website easily navigable, including using breadcrumb menus
- Optimising your site’ page speed so search engines and users aren’t put off by slow loading times
- Clearing up ‘dead’ links to reduce the risk of users encountering 404 errors, but ensuring such pages are optimised in case they are required
- Finding and removing duplicate content
- Making sure your website is secure with protections like the HTTPS protocol
- Optimising your website for mobile
- Understanding schema markup
One useful step that can help you identify the key elements you should be focusing on is to conduct a technical SEO audit. This will highlight issues that are hindering your efforts to drive organic traffic from search, and therefore require immediate attention.
These problems might be obscure or difficult to identify if your tech knowledge is limited, so expert advice can prove very useful at this point.
If you’re not sure where to start with a technical audit, or any other aspect of technical SEO, it’s time to look for a partner who can help.
What makes a good technical SEO agency?
You should have complete confidence that any outside partner you choose to work with is able to deliver on their promises, improve your business and give you a satisfactory return on your investment to enhance your SEO ranking and boost inbound marketing efforts.
So how can you gain this confidence as far as technical SEO is concerned? In short, what makes a good technical SEO agency?
Just like in any other area of digital marketing – and indeed business as a whole – experience goes a long way in the fast-moving world of SEO.
An agency that has been operating for a long time, and has worked on many projects with a wide range of clients, will have an innate understanding of the core technical concepts you need to be focusing on.
They will have first-hand knowledge of the most significant changes that have occurred in SEO in recent years, and will be able to advise you on forthcoming trends that should be on your radar.
Another good indicator that a technical SEO specialist will be able to deliver the insights and expertise you’re looking for is if they have experience working on big websites. Managing the myriad technical elements involved in search-optimising a large site is a significant challenge, so any company that has experience of this will be able to deliver positive results for you too.
More than just technical knowledge
Technical SEO is a crucial element of your mission to ensure every page on your site has the best possible search result ranking, but it’s important to remember that it’s just one part of a bigger picture.
A good way to approach agency relationships in general is to look for suppliers that can meet a range of needs, helping to ensure you get maximum bang for your buck. In the context of SEO, it’s wise to look for a partner that can manage the technical elements mentioned above, but also provide other services that will help you bring in more traffic and maximise lead generation.
That might include:
- Conducting keyword research to get a clear picture of what your audience is searching for
- Content marketing activities like producing blog posts, in-depth guides and interactive assets that are optimised to rank well in SERPs
- Advising on your link-building strategy and efforts to establish authority
- Measuring and reporting on your SEO campaign performance
Practising what they preach
If you’re considering partnerships with agencies that promise to improve your technical SEO performance and move you up the search engine rankings, what better way to test their claims than by looking at their own performance?
Before signing a contract with an SEO company, do some research into how well they’re ranking in SERPs and how easy and enjoyable it is to navigate their website. If you’re able to explore a company’s site without having problems like slow loading times, 404 errors or pages that aren’t optimised for mobile, you can feel confident in their ability to deliver the same results for you.
It can also be a good idea to look at any guides or thought leadership content agencies have produced. This will help you learn more about the depth of their knowledge, lessons they have learned from past projects and whether they’re an influential voice in the industry.
How to choose the right technical SEO agency for you
Going a step further than finding a capable and experienced technical SEO company, you need to be sure any supplier you choose to work with is a good fit for your business in particular.
So what questions should you be asking to make sure you find your ideal agency partner?
Do they have relevant experience?
Looking for an SEO service provider that has delivered clear results for a business similar to yours – with requirements and priorities that align with your own – can be a good starting point. Being able to see that a technical SEO team has experience in your industry and might already know your key goals and pain points is a big plus.
You should also look for evidence of the work any prospective agency partner has done regarding any technical aspect for their previous clients. Case studies and testimonials can be useful if you want a real-world example of their past performance, and if you can speak to a former client in person, even better.
Are they suited to your specific goals?
Before entering into a new relationship with any supplier, make sure you’re absolutely clear on what you want to get out of it. As far as technical SEO is concerned, you might be looking for a holistic service that takes care of every aspect of this vital function, or you could be more interested in specialist solutions like mobile optimisation or increasing your site speed.
Identify your goals and priorities as early as possible and put them at the heart of any decision you make on working with a technical SEO service. This will help to ensure you’re always asking the right questions and putting the needs of your business first.
How do they work?
When you’re evaluating different technical SEO support providers, it’s vital to look for proof of the hard skills and knowledge required to do the job properly. However, it’s also important to remember that you’re likely to get the best results and generate maximum ROI if you’re able to build a happy, productive relationship with your supplier.
This requires some awareness of key elements of the business, such as:
- Their origin story and background
- Their current company culture
- Their business structure and working methods
You might also want to ask who will be given the job of managing your account. Knowing that you’ll be in the hands of an experienced, proven SEO consultant could give you extra reassurance. It will also show how much value the agency attaches to your account.
What are their limitations?
An SEO consultancy pitching their services to you will spend a lot of time talking about what they can do, but it can be useful for you to ask: what can’t they do?
As well as putting any would-be technical SEO expert to the test by giving them a difficult question to answer, this could shine a light on key limitations that could prove critical to your working relationship in the future.
How to work with a technical SEO agency
Once you feel happy that you’ve found the right technical SEO agency for you, the next step is to think about how the working relationship is going to function and how you can maximise the chances of getting the best results.
Create a strong brief
To start with, you need to dedicate the time required to create a detailed and accurate brief, reflecting the needs and priorities you have identified earlier in the process. This helps to ensure you and your agency partner are fully aligned on the project’s ultimate goals, whether it’s a limited refresh to gain some quick wins or a full website migration.
Focus on collaboration
Collaboration is an essential element of successful business relationships. While an agency partner might be taking on the bulk of the work involved in technical SEO, you should be using every opportunity to work with them, monitor progress towards goals and expand your own knowledge.
Business partnerships are often at their best when the people involved are taking a positive, proactive attitude and striving to anticipate problems and challenges before they arise. This can lead to valuable benefits on both sides of the agency/client relationship. You know you’ve found the right technical SEO agency when they can predict your needs and act at the right time to meet them.
To learn more about technical SEO and how a reliable partner can help you succeed in this area, contact Axonn today.