5 Steps To Improve Your Technical SEO SkillsFrom Experts
Search Engine Optimization - and the web industry in general - has become a rather prolific career choice in recent years. Vast job opportunities, competitive hourly rates, and the chance to work independently and earn an extra buck by freelancing have encouraged many to undergo retraining via countless SEO courses.
However, the digital realm is one of the most fast-changing industries. Take, for example, the fact that the most significant occurrence in the world of SEO - Google rolling out a Core Update - takes place several times a year. Knowing that, it's not so difficult to imagine the remainder of the SEO factors being altered and revamped daily.
Luckily for SEO enthusiasts, tutorials, ultimate guides, and courses covering all the digital novelties get published every day. So, whether you've been in the web world since its onset in the mid-90s or you've just started pursuing a career in SEO, online learning databases make it really easy to sharpen your skills and keep up with the latest trends.
This article will be helpful to anyone - newcomers to the SEO world and seasoned specialists alike - who wish to discover the best ways to ramp up their technical SEO skills. So, read on to learn why you should choose the career of a technical SEO specialist and how to improve your tech site optimization knowledge every day.
Technical SEO: What is it All About
Technical SEO is an area of search engine optimization that encompasses activities that aim to improve the website's technical aspects to increase its pages' ranking in the search engines.
In simplest terms, the concept of technical SEO can be separated into auditing and monitoring.
The purpose of auditing is to identify foundational issues affecting organic search performance. During monitoring, technical SEOs monitor a site's visibility and ranking on search engines and uncover how to improve them.
A more complex division of technical SEO would be into:
To be very specific, technical SEO encompasses various activities that all work towards the common goal of ensuring the site's maximum technical compliance with Google's web standards. So, here are some of the basic technical SEO tasks:
- ensuring the website is mobile-friendly
- using HTTPS
- minimizing the site's loading speed
- uncovering and fixing crawl errors
- identifying and fixing broken links
- adding structured data
- checking for duplicate content
- using an SEO-friendly URL structure
- checking canonical tags
Technical SEO professionals make suggestions and modifications regarding page speed, rendering, lazy loading, server-side redirects, microdata tagging, and basic HTML tags. Thus - while most technical SEOs work hand in hand with a developer - knowing to code is pretty much a must for wanna-be tech SEO specialists. Of course, keeping up with the latest Google algorithm updates and trends goes without saying.
[Why] Should You Sharpen Your Technical SEO Skills?
Although Google claims to have created all SEO areas - i.e., search engine ranking factors - equal, quality content and wonderfully intuitive UX are worth nothing if the search engine bots cannot read the web page correctly.
This is where technical SEO enters the stage.
Technical Search Engine Optimization encompasses optimizing websites and servers to help search engine spiders crawl and index the website more effectively and thus improve organic search rankings. In other words, if a website is this big, shiny, magnificent home, technical SEO is its foundation.
But there's one more thing to keep in mind. As the SEO industry grows, so does the scope of work SEO Specialists can (and are expected to) do.
Technical site optimization, on-page SEO, link building, SEM, content marketing, SEO analysis - all these activities have been done by the same person just a few years back. Nowadays, however, each of these aspects of SEO is a science on its own.
Being a Jack of all trades is indeed more valuable when starting your career, especially when working in a small to a medium digital agency. However, if you want to become a true expert in your field, achieve outstanding results for clients, and grow your business, you must narrow your SEO specialization.
Of course, there are unicorn marketers with hybrid skills, from building strategies and creating content to marketing on social media and understanding users' behavior across the web. But the name itself illustrates the rarity and difficulties in marketers' achieving that level of digital skills.
Every SEO-related job is challenging, creative, and demanding in its own right. But, if you're still having doubts about whether to learn technical SEO, this next section may help you wage yay or nay.
Benefits of Mastering Technical SEO
Ahrefs's 2018 survey analyzing the pricing models of 357 SEO specialists found that 74.71% of SEO specialists charge their clients a monthly retainer fee. The fee averaged $501-$1,000, whereas hourly pricing stood between $100 and $150.
If you search for a technical SEO specialist on the world's largest freelancing platform Upwork, you'll discover hourly rates ranging anywhere between $10 and $120.
On the other hand, technical SEO specialists working in an agency earn a median of $63,000 a year. Advancing to the role of a team or campaign manager could double the salary.
But it's not all about the money. Recent data suggest that in 2020, businesses spent around $47.5 billion on SEO and related products and services. Moreover, over 50% of small businesses have a custom SEO strategy, whereas most major companies employ in-house specialists to manage their SEO strategy.
Last but not least, technical SEO is the foundation for a website's off-site SEO and on-page SEO efforts. It guarantees web page usability and outstanding performance in organic rankings. Therefore, technical SEO is an obligatory aspect when building and optimizing any website. As such, it is bound to only increase in significance and value.
By mastering technical SEO, you can leverage these benefits and find your dream job - whether at some of the best SEO agencies or flying solo as a freelancer. Here are five tips to help you hone your technical SEO skills.
Five Tips to Improve Your Technical SEO Skills
1. Learn From Diverse Sources
SEO is a field that incessantly evolves. As technologies advance, web users' behaviors and expectations change, and search engines roll out updates, your main task is to relentlessly learn.
Technical SEO is the buzz, meaning you won't have trouble finding your perfect study material from the abundance of online guides, expert books, YouTube tutorials, case studies, free and paid courses, etc.
Moreover, there are plenty of online communities of (tech) SEO experts you can learn from and contribute to at any moment. One of the best is certainly Reddit, thanks to its subreddits dedicated to SEO, namely r/SEO, r/bigseo and r/TechSEO. Even
John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, frequents these "subs" and often weighs in on Redditors' questions.
These subreddits and other popular SEO groups on Facebook and Slack communities allow you instant access to professionals you may never meet otherwise. Still, take every piece of information and advice with a grain of salt and test it out before integrating the solution into your SEO project; as in SEO, no solution is one-size-fits-all.
Google's official Webmaster guidelines go without saying, and you should keep a close eye on any updates from Google itself. Algorithm updates, along with many other expert SEO topics, are discussed in-depth on popular SEO blogs you, as a future technical SEO expert, should frequent: Moz, Ahrefs, Backlinko, SEMRush, HubSpot, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, etc.
2. Audit Random Websites
Auditing websites you're not working on is a great way to uncover SEO problems or solutions you weren't aware of.
After working on a website for some time, you may find it hard to see the wood for the trees. That's why stepping away from your projects and analyzing what others have done can benefit your technical SEO knowledge.
Whenever you feel uninspired or overwhelmed by your current tasks, do a complete audit of any website you find interesting. Check how the website has been configured for SEO, assess the copy, and analyze the site's on-page optimization.
Understanding how others have handled certain problems may help you uncover new SEO practices you hadn't considered before.
You can even practice your technical SEO by analyzing competitors’ websites and their SEO strategies. Netpeak Spider’s feature allows you to choose an engagement metric to track, crawl and scrape a competitor’s site, and export the report for further analysis.
Keep in mind that a website's success doesn't mean its SEO practices are good; instead, see it more as a basis to conduct further research.
3. Analyze Your SEO Tools
SEO software rarely boasts a feature that's useless. Thus, digging into some of the less-known ones can be fruitful to expand both your SEO knowledge and understanding of the tool itself.
Besides, as the industry develops, so do SEO tools often add new features. So, read the software's official press releases and SEO experts' comments to discover why the new functionality has been introduced.
Yet, getting to know your SEO tools needn't be just for the sake of understanding all its features. Instead, familiarizing yourself with vast SEO tools' features can open up new horizons in technical SEO activities for you to explore.
Knowing your favorite SEO tools' intricacies can significantly optimize or completely automate some of your day-to-day processes, such as analyzing a site's rankings for specific keywords or generating monthly reports.
4. Share Your Knowledge with Others
Writing guides, filming tutorials, or teaching a course can substantially help you organize your thoughts and ideas.
Throughout the process of creating your technical SEO materials, you'll likely do extensive research and testing, which may yield innovative and more effective ways of carrying out your SEO activities.
Sharing your technical SEO knowledge with fellow web specialists is an effective way to learn about SEO complexities. Yet, stress-testing your understanding of the fundamentals you deem default can highlight gaps in your knowledge and open up your understanding of technical SEO.
For example, teaching an industry-outsider on SEO basics will force you to think about everything you know about Search Engine Optimization logically.
Mastering how to efficiently communicate SEO to someone with little or no knowledge of it is a valuable skill to use when meeting with clients, stakeholders or bosses. By starting from the basics, you'll be able to anticipate questions a client may have or easily clarify a frequent misconception of how search engines work.
5. Study an SEO-Related Topic
Technical SEO doesn't work in isolation, and so much of what goes into organic traffic finds its roots in other specialties. As organic traffic is affected by countless factors, some of which are influenced by the actions of your colleagues or clients, it's essential you understand those elements and their intertwined nature.
You can expand your tech SEO skills by discussing new digital trends or specific problems you've encountered. For example, learn about PPC to improve your understanding of conversion funnels and talk to a developer about how code is rendered to improve your future code optimization projects.
As web design practices strongly correlate with technical SEO, it's important you keep up with the latest trends in this field too. Analyze website design projects by the likes of Digital Silk or WebFX, and read about the top practices on Smashing Magazine's and Awwwards' blogs.
Moreover, learn about information retrieval and databases to improve your understanding of how search engines read, store and serve website content. Conversely, studying fields such as psychology and sociology can help identify the driving forces of users' search behavior.
Technical SEO encompasses a myriad of skills, methodologies, and concepts. Whether you're making your first steps in the web industry or have been involved in SEO for years, your success in technical SEO depends on your incessant learning.
As technology evolves and competition increases, you must keep your skills fresh and embrace new ones. Stay open-minded to different learning sources, explore varied optimization strategies, and develop your communication and strategic thinking.
Entering the world of technical SEO can yield quite a few benefits, especially in terms of your earnings, vast job opportunities, and flexibility of work arrangements. But to achieve that success, you'll need to work hard brushing your skills as there's always more to learn.