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How to Create a Technical SEO Prespective & Get Tips

One of the biggest challenges many of my clients face is building the right SEO processes in place, so that any problems are quickly accounted for before they lead to bigger issues. Below are three things you should consider when trying to create a more streamlined process for making sure the technical foundation of the site is solid. Though none are considered "quick" or necessarily easy wins and can initially take a significant amount of time, ultimately in the long-run, they will help make monitoring the SEO on your site more efficient. This means less time spent identifying and fixing site issues and more time focusing on other aspects of SEO, like linkbuilding, developing a content strategy, etc.onsite seo.. Overtime, the impact this will have on your site can result in high rewards.
A) Technical Annotations in Google Analytics

Currently, many of my clients with Google Analytics accounts either don't include any annotations in Google Analytics, annotate only their email, PPC, social campaigns or use it to keep track of search engine algorithm changes (like Panda updates). However, the value of annotating any technical changes made to the site in Google Analytics creates a more efficient internal process.

Scenario 1: Let's say that you have set up Google Alerts to alert you of any spikes and drops in traffic. Then, having technical changes annotated in Google Analytics makes it quicker and easier for you to specifically determine the cause of this spike or drop, instead of investing hours later on trying to determine the cause of these changes in traffic. In addition, any major technical issue runs the risk of being implemented improperly (in terms of SEO considerations), simply because there are so many issues to take into account.

Here is more information on how to setup a Google Alert.

Scenario 2: Often times SEO is not a technical priority for the development team, mostly because it is difficult to measure the ROI of what is often times, a significant amount of invested time and effort. Creating annotations in Google Analytics could help with this process- for example, if a spike in traffic were to occur and the team was somehow able to attribute this to a technical implementation on the site, the technical team could be properly recognized as being the cause of this change.
B) Sitemaps- Google/Bing Webmaster Tools

SEOs should create an internal process where Google Webmaster Tools is checked at least once a month to ensure there are no major issues with the sitemaps or with bots crawling the site. Sitemaps are only useful if they are kept up to date and well-maintained.

Why is this important? Duane Forrester of Bing has stated that "Your Sitemap must be clean. We have a 1% allowance for dirt in a sitemap." His definition of dirt includes 404 or 500 status code errors and redirects. He continues by saying "If we see more than a 1% level of dirt, we begin losing trust in the Sitemap."

Best practices include submitting a new Sitemap regularly, depending on how often new content is generated on the site. A publishing site might need to update every few hours, an e-commerce site every week, and a relatively static site every month.

Sitemaps should be checked at least on a monthly basis in Webmaster Tools to ensure there are no issues with the Sitemap.

These include:

* Checking for error messages
* Checking number of pages submitted versus indexed
* Checking for malware (and address these immediately!)
* Checking for crawl errors (like 4xx and 5xx issues)onpage seo

Using Screaming Frog

If you do have a Screaming Frog account, you can also use it to verify Google Webmaster Tools errors, especially because Google Webmaster Tools do not always update their errors. Thus, you don't want to be looking for 404s that have already been fixed. You can also use it to check your sitemap for errors. To do so, simply upload the XML sitemap into Screaming Frog and crawl it. Craig Bradford of Distliled work a fantastic blog post on how to use Screaming Frog to accomplish these tasks and more.

If Google Webmaster Tools is not periodically checked, the number of errors can seem overwhelming. Joe Robison wrote a fantastic SEOmoz post on fixing an overwhelming number of errors in Google Webmaster Tools.
C) Creating Automated Scripts

404 Pages Returning Status 200 Codes:

Barry Schwartz wrote a blog post on how 404 pages should not return status 200 codes. The reasoning being that it could be confusing to spiders as they see a page that exists technically have no content. This can affect rankings over time because it is creates massive duplicate content as bots are crawling through the same content over and over again across several URLs.

He also suggests creating automated scripts to check for this type of issue.

However, to initially help you determine the extent of this problem on your site and provide an estimation of the number of 404 pages that return status 200 codes, plug a site search query into Google. See example below: "page not found"

If the query returns results, you know your site is returning status 200 codes for 404 pages and that this issue needs to be fixed.


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