It's no secret that SEO relies heavily on technical components to improve the ranking of the website. With so many new technologies, new tools, and metrics (* cough * Core Web Vitals * cough *) going on, you might be wondering if these constant updates are affecting your more technical work.

To find out more about the status of technical search engine optimization in 2021, we asked seven industry experts for their thoughts. The overwhelming answer? Keep doing what you are doing.

“The basic requirements for 2021 will remain roughly the same. Any search engine optimization company needs to understand the fundamentals of crawling and indexing, as well as the technical fundamentals that must be met before a website can rank, ”says Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz Search Scientist. "All the fancy footwork in the world won't get you anywhere if there's no ground under you."

But what should this soil be made of? Read on to find out!

1. Focus on the basics

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Technical best practices are "best" for a reason. Hence, having a solid foundation of basic technical SEO skills is still a must.

"For me, the most underrated technical SEO strategy has always been the basic best practice," says consultant Joe Hall. “It may sound surprising to some, but the vast majority of my clients struggle to grasp the importance of best practices or just the basics of SEO. I think this is in large part because our community is focused and paying attention to the “next best” and doesn't talk about the basic fundamentals of technical SEO very often. "

These basics include difficult skills like identifying and fixing crawlability issues, indexing, accessibility, and website performance, and prioritizing the issues you encounter.

SEO expert Lily Ray notes that prioritization is an area of ​​improvement that inexperienced technical SEOs need to address first, as they may be more inclined to label small things as big problems when they really aren't: “It It is common for new or junior SEOs to send a laundry list of technical articles exported by (SEO tools) directly to customers without prioritizing which ones are most important to fix or knowing which ones to ignore can be, ”she says. “In many cases, the tools don't even point out some of the more serious technical issues that can affect crawling, indexing, or rendering. Good technical SEOs can identify real problems that are having a significant impact on the ability of the website to rank well and know what tools or other resources to use to solve those problems. "

So, in addition to being aware of the technical issues, be aware of the impact these issues actually have on the websites you are working on.

Do you need to brush up or expand on those tough skills? Don't worry – Moz Academy recently released a technical SEO certification that can help you with this!

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Aside from the hands-on, hands-on skills required to create and maintain search-optimized websites, our experts agree that basic soft skills are just as important, with several indicating the need for cross-team collaboration skills.

"Technical SEO implementations generally require working with multiple teams … which means there is a lot of partnership, persuasion, give and take of cooperation," says Alexis Sanders, SEO Director at Merkle. "Project management, customer service, storytelling and communication skills support the implementation."

So don't get stuck in the weeds of your tech work – make sure you are in constant communication with the teams and stakeholders who are helping you support your initiatives.

2. Prepare for Core Web Vitals

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One of the hottest topics in the industry right now is undoubtedly Core Web Vitals, the new Google Ranking Factors update expected in May 2021. But do technical SEOs really have to worry about that?

The experts say yes, but to work as a team, to speak to them and make your SEO voice heard. As Alexis Sanders puts it, “The Page Experience Update consists of Core Web Vitals, Mobile Ease of Use, Web App Security, and Interstitial Removal. Regardless of how the teams are structured, progress requires a multitude of talents that give SEO a more involved place at the table as these elements affect our bottom line. "

As you prioritize your focus areas, make sure improving website speed is high on your list.

"If you are only working on one area of ​​technical search engine optimization in 2021, you should increase the speed of the website," advises Kick Point President Dana DiTomaso. “Website speed is one of the big parts of technical search engine optimization where the benefit is good not only for search engines but also for your website visitors. Keep in mind that not everyone will come to your website with the latest technology and the fastest internet connection. "

When asked about their preferred optimization options, the experts suggested the following:

  1. Use a content delivery network like
  2. Implement server-side caching for markup and design assets such as CSS and JavaScript and minimize the number of unique requirements for each page by balancing CSS and JavaScript.
  3. Optimize media files by converting them to next generation formats and compressing them for data size and usage.
  4. Use tools like BuiltWith, Wappalyzer, and Lighthouse to examine which third-party scripts have loaded on a page and remove them when you no longer need them or move as many as a tag management tool is compatible with .
  5. Focus on optimizing image performance.
  6. Work with Analytics and other internal teams to set processes and expectations for adding and removing tagging.
  7. At the beginning of the development process, establish page speed requirements and expectations.

Now, by fixing website speed and usability issues, you can improve the weather rankings caused by Core Web Vitals.

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3. Use schema and structured data strategically

To ensure that crawlers can read, index, and serve the content of their websites to searchers, many SEOs rely on structured data and schema frameworks to organize everything – and they should. However, when it comes to implementing structured data, the experts agree that you are using it to achieve specific goals, and not just because you can.

"Some structured data has a significant impact on search results or how Google can process and understand a website, while other structured data is completely irrelevant or has no measurable impact for a particular website," says Dr. Pete. "We need to use structured data with clear intent and intent to get results."

Lily Ray agrees, citing the schema debate in the industry:

“There is a wide range of opinions on this subject in the SEO community. Some SEOs want to "mark all things"; others don't believe a schema is important if it doesn't produce comprehensive results. Personally, I like to use structured data when I believe it can provide search engines with more context about the entities that are on our clients' websites, even if that schema doesn't generate extensive results. For example, I think adding schema attributes to your brand and authors is a good approach to solidifying information on Google's Knowledge Graph. "

Take that away? Be clear about your goals and implement structured data when it makes sense for your strategy. However, don't flag all things if it creates unnecessary work for you and your team without getting the results you want.

4. Use automation to get things done

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New technologies don't always last long enough to be useful, but one innovation that won't go away anytime soon is the use of languages ​​like Python to automate various workflows like data analysis and research.

“The technical SEO industry has exploded in recent years with new ideas and innovations, particularly related to the analysis of data on a large scale and the automation of SEO processes, which has brought programming languages ​​like Python into the limelight "Says Lily Ray.

Why is automation important? Not only can this make your daily work easier and streamlined, it can also have a positive impact on your company.

“I still think improving the time to get things done (optimizing performance) is central to any business,” said Miracle Inameti-Archibong, head of SEO at Erudite. "Not just because of the page experience update in May, but because it affects all channels and has a direct impact on bottom line (sales, leads), which is what key decision-makers are interested in."

In 2021, explore ways that automation can help you achieve both your technical search engine optimization and general business goals more effectively.

5. Don't forget to analyze and report

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The success of SEO is gradual and gradual. It usually takes months to years before you can finally prove how the work you have done has paid off. But if something goes wrong? Well dr. Pete has the perfect analogy: "The truth is, technical SEO is often like washing the dishes – nobody gives you much credit for it, but you will surely notice when you break something."

While technical SEO is the foundation of all other SEO work, your non-SEO staff and managers are likely to be more careful when something goes wrong than when it goes right. To solve this problem, he suggests staying away from "vanity metrics" like indexed pages and instead "showing how a clear plan of action has led to improvements in relevant rankings, traffic and sales".

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Make sure you set certain metrics and goals at the start of each campaign. This helps you control your efforts and provides an easier framework for you to report on later tasks. And don't forget to consider outside forces that can affect your results.

"Organic traffic can be affected by a lot of external factors or your other non-technical SEO campaigns," says Tom Capper, Senior Search Scientist at Moz (let's say five times as fast). “Tactics like SEO split testing or, at a more primitive level, counterfactual forecasting can in many cases help isolate these effects, and luckily, technical changes are faster and more direct than some other types of changes that don't. No returns will be displayed until the next core update. "

So when analyzing and reporting, keep in mind that quantity is not always quality and make sure you have the full picture before you get any insight.


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While the core of your technical SEO work will stay the same in 2021, there are plenty of opportunities to build and improve basic skills, implement structured data and automation, clarify the way you analyze and report your results, and Core Web Vitals To Plan To Take Effect. While technical work can feel isolating at times, remember that cross-team collaboration is key and that you are part of a community of SEOs with similar goals!

Speaking of the community, we wouldn't be sure if we didn't mention the great work done by Areej AbuAli and the Women in Tech SEO network.

"If you identify as a woman, join Women in Tech's SEO Slack channel and subscribe to their newsletter," advises Miracle Inameti-Archibong. “I wish I had such a community when I started my career. There are many people who are always ready to help not only with technical SEO issues, but also with mentoring and sharing opportunities. "

Do you have any questions for the experts or advice not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments!


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