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Technical SEO in 2023: The Knowledge Panel Show

by Andreas Voniatis Founder. Fractional SEO Consultant.

The Knowledge Panel Show by InLinks and hosted by Genie Jones, delves into all things SEO. Bringing in experts from around the world, they cover SEO subjects ranging from creating content using AI all the way to digital marketing strategies. 

In the latest episode, Technical SEO in 2023 – The Knowledge Panel Show, Episode 34, filmed on April 17th 2023, they discussed the latest ideas surrounding technical SEO. Three industry experts – Andreas, Nikki and Serge – delved into their latest tech SEO ideas for the coming months.

The first guest Andreas is the founder and SEO specialist at Artios. Artios is a data-driven SEO consultant firm that has worked with huge clients such as Amazon Europe. Andreas has been tweaking his SEO process over the years and has even written a book – Data-Driven SEO

“We’re an SEO consulting firm, first going into SEO 20 years ago. And since [starting], technical SEO, for me, is all about making sure content is discoverable.”

Second, Nikki, a technical SEO specialist based in Manchester, UK. Nikki’s primary focus is on making sure that websites are easy to find while loading quickly and efficiently. She’s a self-taught SEO specialist that works with many clients around the world, such as the NHS.

The final guest, Serge, is a developer at heart. Serge started on his SEO journey in around 2000. Having worked on large, well-established websites on the developer side of things, Serge has always been close to technical SEO. Over the past five years, he has been specialising in technical SEO. Putting his web development knowledge together with SEO practices to help websites rank higher. 

The guests were asked a series of questions throughout the session to highlight what specific factors they are working on in tech SEO for 2023. Let’s take a look at what was discussed throughout the 45-minute session, so you can start putting these experts’ tips and tricks into practice. 

What Has Changes Over the Years with Technical SEO?

Nikki started the conversation off by explaining that as the years have gone on, technical SEO has changed a lot. And in terms of what you want to focus on, these SEO elements change massively once you get more experience. She says that at the start, you focus on things that don’t matter too much, such as meta descriptions. These things do matter, but not as much as you think. 

Serge comes into the conversation and explains that over the years, JavaScript usage has grown. It is important to ensure that JavaScript-heavy websites are optimised for indexability. Implementing server-side rendering (SSR), pre-rendering, or dynamic rendering techniques can help search engines understand and index JavaScript-generated content. Additionally, optimising JavaScript code for efficiency improves website performance and user experience.

Andreas then comes into the conversation to explain a little further;

“20 years ago, JavaScript frameworks weren’t even a thing. WordPress wasn’t even a thing. So what’s really interesting is that a lot of the issues when I started were a lot of on-page elements as well as content discovery. Now a lot of things in content management systems are out of the box. You get your meta description fields and titles and all the rest of it. Webflow takes care of all of that sort of thing. And they even give you the facility to set your canonical tags.”

Andreas continues to explain what he is finding difficult at the moment;

“What I find challenging is that I find that my time is spent actually trying to quantify the financial worth of a technical change or issue because then it’s much easier to have that conversation and get something prioritised in terms of if you make a change, we estimate this is what kind of incremental revenue per month you’ll experience. It just helps get people excited about it typically.”

What Are the Most Common Tech SEO Misconceptions?

Andreas answered this one first, explaining that clients often expect some sort of fix-all in one go when hiring a tech SEO expert.

“One thing I’ve come across is that a business will think that tech SEO is magical fairy dust sprinkled onto a website. You tell us what the magic keywords are that we need to put into our meta fields, and we’ll come out smelling the roses. In this one particular case, you can optimise these 80 pages, but it doesn’t matter if you optimise those 80 pages to the hills; it’s going to make zero difference. This is not where the focus should be on tech SEO, ironically.”

Andreas says it’s quite hard to get clients to understand that SEO is an ongoing process. Technical SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a multifaceted approach that requires addressing many technical aspects, working in synergy with other SEO practices.

All three of the experts agreed that it’s very hard to get people to understand the monetary value of technical SEO because you can’t really quantify it very well. Andreas added;

“It’s a bit of a carrot and stick situation. So I tend to lead with the carrot, which is the money you can make from this. In terms of the stick, I go with the data science angle. It’s trying to use some numbers or facts to say, these are your issues, and when we add up all of the URLs that are affected by this issue, this is how much traffic is affected.”

Serge jumped into the conversation, explaining that when you fix 404 pages, it’s only the beginning. Fixing 404 (page not found) errors is an essential technical SEO task, but it’s not a cure-all solution. While resolving 404 errors improves user experience and crawlability, this is just one aspect of the whole process. 

Nikki said it reminded her of something that happened recently. She talked about a previous client who had internal and external links, but the client did a blanket no follow for external sites. His thought process was that it would waste search engine resources and hurt overall website SEO. Nikki explained that this was a complete misunderstanding. 

Contrary to his misconception, linking to external sites does not cause website crawlability inefficiencies. In fact, strategic external linking to relevant and authoritative sources can enhance a website’s credibility and provide additional context for search engines.

Another misconception that Serge highlighted was the fact that people often choose multiple SEO plugins. He says to choose your SEO plugins wisely. SEO plugins can be helpful in streamlining your efforts, but many people think plugging in multiple extensions will multiply your gains. However, when you do this, the plugins often start to ‘fight’ among themselves, ultimately hindering overall SEO efforts. Find one comprehensive plugin and stick with it. 

What Would You Say to a Newbie to Help Them with Technical SEO? 

Serge’s first step is for you to familiarise yourself with Google’s SEO guidelines. These guidelines provide insights into best practices for creating websites that are search engine-friendly. This document is like gold dust to a technical SEO specialist. 

Andreas adds that the best way to learn is by doing it first-hand. He finds it odd that people going for these SEO junior roles have never actually tried to create their own website and rank for something. 

“The best way to learn, in my opinion, is to just create your own website. Try and get it indexed. Try and get crawled. How can you expect to be paid to do your job if you haven’t done this first-hand? It’s like having a driving instructor that has never driven a car. I just don’t get it, honestly. I think you really need [create their own website] if you’re really serious and passionate about this career path.”

Nikki agrees with this and says, “don’t be afraid to break things”. If it’s your own website, that’s what it’s there for, to give you the experience of playing around with different things. Finding what works and what doesn’t. This is exactly how Nikki started with SEO. She explains that “it’s better to break your own website than a client’s.”

Serge says that working with a mentor or being part of an experienced SEO team can accelerate your learning curve – even if you start off working for free. They can provide guidance, answer your questions, and help you gain practical experience.

Andreas ends the conversation by saying that when he started, there weren’t any online courses with easy access to learn. These days it’s much easier to start. He said it’s helpful to direct message SEO experts online and build relationships as you gain more experience. 

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