| by Line

The importance of integrating Technical SEO into your website build

Technical SEO: the implementation of technical features, functions, guidelines and innovations designed to optimise websites for search engines, promote search engine access and increase site visibility.

For companies that are serious about search, technical search engine optimisation should be seen as a core part of the website development process, dovetailing neatly with planning, design and build activity.

But too often technical SEO is regarded as a secondary concern in the site build process; something that can be factored into the site after it has been developed and launched.

Often it’s because that is the way that it has always been done. But continuing to tack technical SEO onto pre-designed and built websites signals a lack of understanding about the breadth of technical implementations available that can be used to bolster search performance, and which are best incorporated into the site from the planning stage.

The fact that many content management systems now come with out-the-box solutions to common technical SEO issues, coupled with improvements in how search engines crawl and understand websites and different content types, can lead people to believe that technical SEO is unnecessary.
By the time it becomes obvious that this isn’t the case - that is after the site has been developed and built - the application of technical SEO can be far less straightforward.

The difficulty with attempting to integrate technical SEO post- build is that when issues surface that affect search performance, certain technical solutions can be difficult to implement due to the constraints imposed by chosen content management systems, technology or programming languages for example.

This can lead to a situation where less than optimal technical workarounds are shoehorned into site frameworks in an attempt to resolve technical issues.

Additionally, as so much time, effort and expense has been invested in developing the website, there can be a reluctance to implement solutions that might require fundamental changes to underlying functionality, technology or structure.

Integrating technical SEO into your development process not only helps you negotiate such pitfalls, it also provides a solid foundation upon which to build further SEO activity.

If we recognise that the ways that people may come into contact with your website are numerous, for example through localised results, specific search verticals such as video or images, via social platforms, or on mobile devices, then it becomes clear that the role of technical SEO is to ensure that the site is primed to take advantage of the multi-faceted search landscape.

Next I want to very briefly examine the benefits of integrating technical SEO into new website development projects.

Identifying potential blocks and hindrances for search engines at an early stage
Technical SEO experts can help drive and contribute to key development decisions at the planning stage of any new site build, identify potential blocks and hindrances early on, and provide solutions to issues that can be integrated into technical specifications and fed into the build process.

These are the kinds of areas where you should invite early SEO input:

• Technical architecture
• Information architecture & navigation
• IP redirection
• Geotargeting
• Site performance optimisation
• Optimisation for mobile devices
• Robot control

The aim is to ensure that the site is developed at all levels within a framework that supports SEO objectives, and from which search engines can extract maximum value.

Managing equity
Technical SEO can assist in providing best practice recommendations anywhere that the earned value of a domain or page may be at risk.

If a URL has been present in search engine results for some time, then there is a good chance it has acquired both trust and links and therefore has value. Simply removing or deleting URLs such as these means that this value will be lost.

If a new build involves changing URL structures or domain, technical search experts can help formalise and manage site migration processes, mitigating equity loss by ensuring that any value acquired by old URLs is passed to new locations.

Whilst migration processes are not unfamiliar to developers, there is the potential that valuable URLs could be omitted from the migration process, particularly if duplication was a problem within old site structures. If developers are unaware that this has been a problem, there is a chance that URLs might have been acquiring valuable equity, which are then not accounted for within migration processes. A formalised process therefore helps to capture all URLs that have the potential to pass value for inclusion in the migration process.

Similarly, through early involvement in the build process and familiarisation with technical specifications, areas where equity might be at risk can be identified and suitable solutions provided to negate any issues that might compromise search performance going forwards.

An example of this could be by identifying potential areas of duplication caused by a proposed faceted navigation system. Technical guidance can be provided to development teams with regard to how to handle these types of URLs, enabling measures to be integrated into the build to ensure that any value these might acquire is passed to canonical URLs.

Leveraging key site assets
Technical SEO can also help to identify site assets and provide a blueprint to enable these assets to be leveraged effectively for search.

For example, this could be through the use of structured markup for videos, events and products; video, image or news feeds; PDF optimisation; or by increasing visibility of content and authors through share functionality and authorship rich snippets.

Identifying assets early on means that technical guidelines can be developed to enable site developers to integrate each asset type into the site build in a way that is optimal for search and maximises the potential for success.

In summary, for anyone responsible for website traffic, conversions and ultimately sales, technical SEO should be seen as a vital part of an overall search strategy and not an afterthought. Websites planned, designed and built with technical SEO at the core are better primed to take advantage of the diverse search landscape that we’re dealing with today.

Line Digital has extensive experience in every stage of the website development process. This means that we are uniquely positioned to develop websites that are set up for search success from the outset.

Gavin Sutherland
Head of Acquisition
Line Digital

Tel: +44 (0) 131 524 3266
Email: gavin@line.uk.com
Web: www.line.uk.com
Twitter: @linedigital

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