There are a couple of ways to think about SEO. Technical SEO is all the stuff you do to help search engines crawl and index your digital experience. On-page SEO is all the stuff you do to help search engines rank your content.

The techniques you’ll use to improve indexing are mainly technical. The techniques you’ll use to improve ranking are mainly on-page, like writing Title tags and optimizing H1 tags. Of course there are off-page tactics to improve ranking, but that’s another topic.

Technical SEO is the Foundation

This might not be applicable to every digital experience, but it is a rule that should be closely applied to most. Another way to think of this is kind of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — SEO hierarchy of needs.

When it comes to implementing SEO there are a couple of common scenarios:

Starting fresh. If you’re designing and developing a new digital experience, this is the time to focus on technical SEO — before the on-page SEO. Lay a solid foundation, and then build the on-page SEO and content marketing on that foundation.

Improving an existing site. In this scenario do you start with technical or on-page SEO? It’s really going to depend. You’ll first need to determine how well the digital experience is doing and where it’s under performing, so start with an SEO audit.

A proper SEO audit will look at technical and on-page SEO opportunities. Generally, here are some things to consider when evaluating where to focus your SEO:

Is the digital experience struggling site-wide with ranking? This is generally a result of underlying technical issue. Focus on the technical SEO. Fix the issues that are hindering search engines from crawling the site. When search engines can effectively index a website they can more effectively make sense of your content and rank it.

Do you have multiple pages fighting to rank for the same search terms? Internal cannibalization of ranking can dilute your SEO efforts. Run a ranking report to identify pages that are ranking for the same terms, and edit the content on these pages.

Maybe some pages can target alternate, but related search term. Maybe you need to let search engines know which page you prefer to rank using rel=’canonical’ tags. This is where we have a cross-over between technical and on-page SEO. rel=’canonical’ is a technical technique, but you also need to step in as the content marketer and specify which page is most important.

Technical SEO or On-page SEO?

At the end of the day what we want is higher ranking and more organic search traffic. It’s not about if technical SEO, or on-page SEO will get you there fastest — it's about getting there. If the digital experience has a solid technical foundation, then your focus should be on-page SEO. However, if your technical SEO is deficient, then pouring resources into content is like putting the horse before the cart.

Here are some other great resources:

Technical SEO: Why It’s Becoming More Important Than Any Other SEO Tactic

For more understanding on the importance of technical SEO read this article from kissmetrics.

Technical SEO: seven tweaks to give you an edge.

The following tweaks will give you the edge, help your search visibility when it comes to technical SEO, and are very straightforward to implement.

Not sure where you should start? Talk with our SEO expert today and get a clearer view of where you website is in terms of SEO.

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