Is it really better to be super technical (by technical, we mean implementing things like schema, keyword density, LSI keywords and so on) with your optimisation work when trying to top search engines? I’m sure it can help but is it worth actively pursuing ‘technical’ work with a large percentage of your time? We are confident that many agencies are spending 60-80%+ of their time on the technical aspects of this profession.
This article is for people that may are dabbling in their own search engine work and for the small SEO agency with limited resources. Spending your time, energy and money effectively is really important if you are a one man band or a small team. You don’t have countless hours to throw at a project, ten guys to throw in their opinion or tens of thousands to spend on trial and error. This one is for you and hopefully it clears up how technical you should be with your optimisation work to ensure first page results
Being technical with your SEO
There are plenty of pros in having a technical focused optimisation strategy. Firstly, the reassurance. It feels great to tick off items on the to do list, H tags, schema markup, title tags, keyword density, latent semantic indexing (LSIs) and many more (we have a 30 point list).
So is implementing all of these strategies necessary? Will it produce the results you want it to?
They can produce results, yes.
Some industries and search terms are much easier to hit the first page of Google for than others as you probably already know.
In uncompetitive spaces, great technical optimisation work can get you to the top of Google and that’s when spending 60-80% of your time on technical techniques is worth it.
By uncompetitive spaces, we mean search terms that are showing as a ranking difficulty of under 25 on Moz. Now, Moz should be used as a general rule here rather than going completely by the number they give.
The reason is that you can completely control all of the elements at play. You have a check list of things to do. You go through each one, implement it and tick the task off your list.
However, if you falsely assume the difficulty is easier than it actually is, just using technical techniques might not be enough.
For example if you intend to rank for terms related to SEO services in Derby, simply using on-page strategies might not work. You could get to the end of your technical 30 point process and spent 60% to 80% of your allocated time for the client and still only be on the 3rd page of the results.
Third page is good, but you won’t be getting the results you want. Most people barely read to the bottom of the first page, let alone the third page.
Technical techniques have good impact but it probably won’t do as well as you want it to. It helps, it moves the needle, but you won’t get to the first page of Google on a 25+ difficulty (as suggested by Moz) through purely technical SEO.
It simply does not move the needle the fastest though. When you’re a small agency, you need strategies that get results the fastest. Heck, everyone needs this, but especially the small guys. We started as a small team with plenty of projects reasonably early so we had to figure out what worked the fastest as soon as we could…
So what could be a more efficient strategy?
There is a lot more to ranking an just on-page technical tactics.
The most powerful techniques and movers in ranking your website can be external from your website itself.
For example, other websites and web properties linking to you. These days its all about the quality of those links NOT Quantity.
So bare that in mind before you start messaging every Tom Dick and Harry for a link.
A great way to easily get high quality links is to use high quality contemporaries for a link. If you have friends who own excellent websites, lean on them and get that quality link. Do something in return if necessary. It will be worth it.
What is a quality backlink though?
You may be asking “whats a quality backlink?”, and its a very important question to ask before you start with any off-page strategy.
So my personal definition on the quality of a backlink is: “does it make sense that website and particular page its coming from make sense to link to you?”
Approach other small business owners who are either nearby or have a similar type of business as you (in Google’s eyes). Get a link from them and link back to you.
These days, linking from local business websites that are relevant and close to your provisional area do really well to improve rankings.
Essentially Google is saying “are people speaking about this company in a positive way?”. If someone is linking to your website it’s quite clear that they have a positive relationship with you and want to refer your service.
Even if, in the unlikely scenario, they are linking to you to preach how terrible you are, Google will still reward you for being linked to them.
Anyway another part to the quality of a link is ensuring that the links you are receiving aren’t considered spammy by Google.
A good way to check this is using Moz link explorer, and you can check the spam score of the website you are considering getting a link back from.
They calculate the spam score using variety of metrics and one in particular that holds a lot of weight is whether or not that website already receives a lot of bad links.
For example, if the website you want a link from signed up to a bunch of link farms (websites that provide 1000s of links for a website), Google will have picked this up as spammy.
So, using this tool will help you improve the quality of the link you receive as you will be able to filter out the bad links that would not be in your best interest to get a link from.
As previously mentioned link building is one of the most recognised and powerful strategies for improving your search presence.
Therefore if you have a client who has a budget in mind and you can only allocate so many hours – you may be better off allowing more time for backlink strategies given the bang for your buck (the better results you could receive for your time invested).
In an ideal scenario (is there ever an ideal scenario?), you would like to do both on-page and off-page optimisation but sometimes you don’t get allocated the budget to allow for that.
How should I allocate my time between on-page technical work and off-page links for a small business?
So if i have a small business owner approach me and want to rank for local search term that has low-medium difficulty level and doesn’t have the largest budget. I will do a 40% (technical) – 60% (backlink strategies) split.
This way I’m not spending all of my efforts on strategies that are quite safe but may not get the results the clients wants. I’m allocating a considerable amount of time to get results that could really push the needle (see a significant increase) in the rankings and get the clients the results they want for their budget in mind.
But at the same time if the difficulty is low enough and I know for sure that just some good solid technical SEO will get me the top for the desired keywords I will do an 80% (technical) – 20% (backlink strategies) split.
So the deciding factor in your time spent and strategies should be dependent upon the amount of hours you have allocated and the difficulty of the search term.
This should point your use of time in a direction that is good for the customer using your services and of course your overall effectiveness as a practitioner.
Until next time,
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Also published on Medium.